Dark Stores
August 28, 2009 4:58 AM   Subscribe

The recession has seen the closure of many stores - from small local outfits to famous longstanding chains. Brian Ulrich's Dark Stores chronicles the ghostboxes of America, and the Guardian's Recession Monitor Flickr pool shows the view from the other side of the Atlantic.

NB - apologies for the horrid interface on the Time article. Goddamn.
posted by mippy (16 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
^ which I've now amended to a link on the photographer;s website. Interface angst averted!
posted by mippy at 4:58 AM on August 28, 2009

wow, great photos in the Ulrich set. i'm glad plants are retaking some of those dead malls.
posted by Mach5 at 5:07 AM on August 28, 2009

Those photos are le great. Really captivating and thought-provoking--like Mach5, I think the images of the plants encroaching are compelling.

Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:33 AM on August 28, 2009

That Ulrich collection is absolutely fantastic. One of the things it does is really capture the emptiness and loneliness of the settings, which is one of the things that drew me to urban exploration in the first place. It's the outdoor night lighting night that does it. I've been in that light before. I've seen those abandoned hulks of commerce in that light. It really is that empty and lonely. Brilliant photography.
posted by Spatch at 5:45 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Thrift set is wonderful. It makes me want to visit a US thrift store - they look as big as supermarkets! I do wonder though how he captured people's expressions without noticing, before they turned self-conscious or asked him to put the camera away before they smash it.
posted by mippy at 6:14 AM on August 28, 2009

Half-Life 3!
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:37 AM on August 28, 2009

See also Dead Malls, a fairly comprehensive survey of dead and dying shopping malls across the US. Rather a lot, really.

Sidenote: Some of the listings around the Cleveland area include the reminiscences of 'genuine nerd' Toby Radloff.
posted by Herodios at 6:51 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

There's a book at my library about repurposing abandoned big box stores. I haven't read it, but the general idea seems like a good one. Community centers, public workshops, playspaces, etc. We could put a lot of people to work creating a lot of good social infrastructure if we recognized an opportunity when we saw one.
posted by DU at 6:59 AM on August 28, 2009

Ah, I see that the WSJ article cites Dead Malls as well as Labelscar.
posted by Herodios at 6:59 AM on August 28, 2009

The imagery is absolutely haunting.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:09 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

I seems like a lot of this isn't so much from the recession but some over development. They just keep building stores and shopping centers and malls until the market is totally gutted.
posted by octothorpe at 7:49 AM on August 28, 2009

“There is not a landfill on earth able to handle all the big boxes that we have sitting empty,” says Julia Christensen...

Hyperbolize much?
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 7:52 AM on August 28, 2009

The third photo in the Ulrich set, in canton Mall, looks positively Portal-esque, The brenching security cameras some intruding tendril of GLAD-OS. Creepy.
posted by Verdant at 7:58 AM on August 28, 2009

“There is not a landfill on earth able to handle all the big boxes that we have sitting empty,” says Julia Christensen...

Well, then, let's turn this around and fill all those empty big boxes with garbage. Problem solved!
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:57 AM on August 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

Surreal. Reminds me of a 2-story mall here in London (ON): the whole upper level is empty except for the food court. Everything that's open has (been) moved to the lower level. I discovered the shadow half by accident when I walked out the top level of one of the anchor retail stores. I was compelled to tour the whole upper level because I couldn't believe my eyes.
posted by Decimask at 10:44 PM on August 28, 2009

Reading the wikipedia list of defunct retailers is like a walk down memory lane.

Do any of the 'catalog showroom' type of stores still exist, the kind where there was only a display model of each item, and you took a ticket for the item you wanted to buy? I always remember the glee as a kid of going to the checkout and waiting to see the item come down the conveyor belt. I know that there's a famous photography/electronics store in NYC that still works like this but it's not a chain as far as I can remember.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:56 AM on August 29, 2009

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