We moved to Tracy in our early 30s, looking for something we could afford to buy versus spending a half-million dollars in San Jose. It just so happened that the West Valley Mall’s grand opening was three days after we had hauled all of our belongings over the hill.
Everything in the Tracy Press was about the mall’s grand opening, and it was really impressive to us that we had a mall of the magnitude of West Valley Mall. That it boasted a Target, Sears, JCPenney and Gottschalks was enough for me. I was a new mom and wasn’t really looking to shopping at Macy’s at the time, or Nordstrom — not that I’ve ever been able to afford shopping there.
The restaurants kept popping up as time went along, and our population increased enough for companies to really believe that we had enough consumers to support their chains’ growth. Now we have Olive Garden, Applebee’s, Chili’s, Chevys, Famous Dave’s, Texas Roadhouse, etc.
The city was growing so fast when we first moved in that, when we would take a trip outside of our neighborhood, I would find that model homes had been framed across Corral Hollow Road, and soon that whole side of the city sprang up and out. We grew with an influx of other people moving to Tracy just like us, looking for affordable homes.
With a toddler, we were more than happy to let him play in the Tracy Press play area at the mall, and he loved riding on the carousel. We spent a lot of our time window-shopping in the mall, but to be honest, most of our hard-earned money was spent at Walmart.
I have to say that since one of us is the breadwinner in our family, both due to lack of industry out here and time-of-life, and now with an aging parent with Alzheimer’s, I still usually shop at Walmart. Their checkout lanes are usually pretty full.
Years ago, Abercrombie & Fitch started marketing their clothes with what looked like an orgy of naked bodies on their catalogues. They will quite often have images of barely clothed young bodies, trying to lure you into the store. So to compare our “seedy little strip mall” to Abercrombie & Fitch is a little elitist, to say the least.
If all your daughter wants is skinny jeans, then I’m sure there are other places here to get them. She just wants the brand name on her rear — but since they’re low-rise, how much of a label can you really see?
(I had vowed to myself, as a Christian, never to step into an Abercrombie and Fitch, as I wouldn’t support that kind of degradation of young models. But I do have to admit that I did walk into the one at the Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto — only because I was looking for my now teenaged son, whose cell phone had died. And I was searching everywhere.)
To base your whole existence on wanting what the “Joneses” have, then how hard is it to jump in your car and drive to Pleasanton and make a day of your shopping? It must be an awful chore to pick up your keys. The trade-off to buying more affordably is to know that you have to drive a little before you get to a two-story mall.
A church friend lamented on Facebook about the fact that our mall was a little lacking, and another friend replied that she thought of it as a “sMall.”
That’s OK, though. For those people who want to shop or eat in a larger city that can support and sustain the specialty or larger stores, either take a trip or decide where you really want to live.
The economy in the past five years has been enough of a challenge. Trying to be a big city making big decisions — spending taxpayers’ money on bringing in larger retailers —means growing pains and big risk.
The city of Manteca invested millions bringing in the retailers that are now lining Highway 120. You have to spend money to make money, but please don’t compare the West Valley Mall to a strip mall. And, Mr. Williams, if you spent a little more of your own money in the mall, maybe more tenants would actually be willing to sign a lease.
If you don’t want Tracy to look like a ghost town, support it from within.
• Deborah Littleton of Tracy is involved in public relations, marketing, graphics and Web design.