Friday, November 5, 2010

The Malls of Sofia

When we first arrived in Sofia, there were two malls in the city. The larger mall "Mall of Sofia" was in the city center, and the second, smaller mall "City Center Sofia", is right near our apartment.

We visit "our" mall quite frequently - mainly we go to the supermarket on the lower floor for most of our grocery shopping. There are 2 restaurants that we like, my hairdresser is there, and of course, the cinema. Most of the shops are international designer shops, and the prices are high, and we don't usually shop there. We see shops with a couple of sales personel, but very rarely do we see shoppers inside. We've often wondered how these shops keep in business, since Bulgarian salaries are not high, and we don't understand who can afford the high prices.

We've also noticed that there are a certain number of types of shops that are missing from Bulgarian malls, that you would find in most malls in Israel - for instance, a home improvement shop where you can get everything from paint and hardware to kitchen ware and furniture. Another shop that is missing, is office/art supplies. Although Bulgaria does have their own chains of these stores, they are never to be found in the malls.

Last spring, a new, and bigger mall opened - "Serdika", which was even larger than the mall downtown. As soon as this mall opened, we started noticing that our mall was less crowded, and slowly but surely, a number of shops started closing. And two months after "Serdika" opened, "The Mall" ,the newest, and biggest mall opened on the road on the way to the airport. And more shops closed in our mall....

I can't help but wonder if Sofia really needs all these large, unaffordable malls that all carry the same expensive imported merchandise, and which the average Bulgarian can't afford. There's really no difference between one mall and the other, they just keep getting bigger. And if the 4 malls that already exist aren't enough, today's morning news announced that within the next 2 years, there are plans to open up to 3 more malls - each one being even bigger than the previous one.......

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