It's not a big secret, the sun is setting on our beloved Central Mall. It started small and innocuous with the disappearance of the small trendy stores that have come and gone. Then things got serious when Sears closed. While we all really enjoyed the never-ending "Going Out Of Business" sale that lingered for months, they really did just lock the doors, close the gates, and that part of the mall became history. Some of us believed someone would rent the place out and put in a massive grow operation there, but more the rumors circulated about how the mall owners did business, we knew that wasn't going to be a reality. Skip forward to Dillard's announcing they're closing their doors, two of the three pillars of Central Mall will be now be gone.

It's not a Lawton thing. Malls all across this country are slowly dying horrific deaths. This pandemic hasn't been a help to them either as online shopping has now gained popularity over every generation of Americans. So what can malls do with all of that empty, lifeless, now worthless space? Give in to online retail.

Apparently, Amazon is in talks right now with the largest mall operator in the nation about using all of these vacant once used store spaces to put in hyper-local Amazon fulfillment centers. In bigger markets, Amazon offers same day delivery, and it's pretty awesome. I was in Tulsa for a family thing, family time is limited enough in my clan, so instead of heading out to grab necessities, I ordered our things on Amazon and a driver delivered them within the hour. It was ridiculously epic. Maybe that could be a new reality for Lawton one of these days.

Before you go hopping off and spreading a rumor, the company that owns all these malls in talks with Amazon is not the same ownership as Central Mall. In fact, that huge company about to make bank with Amazon only owns two malls in Oklahoma... Penn Square in OKC and Woodland Hills in Tulsa... but, as OKC and Tulsa both already have huge Amazon fulfillment centers, stretching further into the corners of this state would be a good move. If it turns out a good move for everyone involved, there's no reason why it couldn't work in Lawton. You'd just have to convince whoever owns Central Mall that even a little rent money is better than zero rent money. Amazon would be able to use two massive spaces in our mall where stores will have once been. Smaller towns all over might benefit from it if they don't scope out Sykes Center Mall in Wichita Falls first...

We should hope for the best. At the least, Amazon would put pressure on our three Walmarts to lower their prices even more. We'd all win.

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