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Beyond the Mall

Ditch the packed parking lots, jostling crowds and Muzak Christmas carols. The Bay has plenty of enticing stores where gift shopping is still fun.

By Vicki Meade

Article in the December 2000, issue of Chesapeake Travel and Leisure

Excerpt

That the words "mall" and "maul" have the same pronunciation holds no irony for me. It's entirely fitting, as I see it, for the noun denoting a huge enclosed shopping complex to sound just like the verb meaning "to handle fiercely by slashing, tearing and bruising."

I don't know about you, but I get grouchy the minute I enter a shopping mall parking lot, and my mood worsens in proportion to how long I must troll for an empty parking space. Inside, I feel jostled and pummeled. Teens and strollers form barricades to conquer. Chatter ricochets and Muzak assaults. The sameness of the shops is disorienting—where am I, anyway? (Big-city shopping isn't much more enjoyable—and your fought-over parking space isn't even free.)

Last year I avoided the mall entirely and bought gifts in Bay shops and boutiques where browsing was pleasurable, not painful. The regional flair, the element of surprise, the utter uniqueness of the items made the experience fun. One weekday, my husband and I played hooky and poked around downtown Annapolis. By dusk, we'd crossed everyone off our list—and we were still in good cheer. As I discovered again this fall, the region abounds with special places for holiday shopping. Try them. You may never have to burn rubber for a mall parking space again.