Last week we went over to the no longer new Yashow Mall for another look and found it every bit as depressing as the first time it reopened last autumn. The whole building was locked in dead silence except for the maddening drone of escalators and the little fountains trickling water in every store. We heard it’s called jubaopen, and that these fountains, or the presence of water and little cheaply fabricated mountains at the store’s entrance, are supposedly to help in gathering wealth. Maybe this is why we had to make a quick trip to the bathroom to tinkle immediately upon beginning this investigation. Not the kind of subliminal messaging system most commercial spaces have in mind.
We thought the bathrooms could at least become a destination for those visiting the Sanlitun area to easily relieve themselves. Unfortunately, there was a cleaning dude chilling with his tongs in the only sit-down stall giving us a look like “get the hell out of my house” (said in a Charles Barkley voice immediately after deflecting a layup).
Throughout the visit to this wretchedly evolved Yashow there are signs pointing you to “name brands this way.” These are unfortunately all brands you've never heard of. The brands that populate this market sound more like the grunts uttered by a cross-fit athlete in mid pump (Everard, Manha, Chenim). Also, if we see another store selling Jeep-brand clothing from America, we are going ballistic. Why do you need a mall selling this brand if you can go to any major street in Beijing and get your Jeep fishing vest or man purse there at a far better price? It’s like they are trying to pull up that weird strip of clothing shops on Dongsishitiao and throw it in a luxury environment, to see if foreigners who once frequented Yahsow will pay insane amounts of money for this garbage instead of the sometimes convincing knockoffs that we knew and loved.
The only operations that seem to be doing relatively well here are of course Cheers Wines, who constantly have winos on their porch guzzling away midday because that’s just what this place does to people. The DVD store isn’t too shabby, and Burger King, while never that packed, at least has a product people know and desire. All of the foreign brands who thought it was a wise investment to open up in these confines have left this sinking ship, including the weird Dickies clothing shop, the foreign-owned tea shop Papp's, and the Major League Baseball Store that only sold New York Yankees hats and jerseys.
The word on the street from some vendors that sit beside this massive failure is that they will be returning back to the old format later on this month. They will be renovating the space on May 15 to accommodate for more small stalls like what was available at the old Yashow before their wondrous failure. Let’s all join hands and pray that this is the case. So ahead of that renovation of a renovation, here are a few ideas that we feel would significantly improve this space, courtesy of the Beijinger’s editorial team.
1. Open up a Krispy Kreme franchise so that we could take a burger from Burger King and make one of these.
2. More restaurants should provide more foot traffic.
3. Allow more room for independent designers (possibly brands featured on Yetang or Nuandao).
4. Start holding cricket fights in the basement and charge admission.
5. At night, turn the whole place into a laser tag arena nightclub hybrid.
6. Replace the squatters with Japanese-style toilets. This is likely the reason why Parkview Green is such a success.
7. Replace all of the salespeople with robots so that you can put them on mute and pay using Wechat wallet, all enhanced by some sort of bargaining algorithm.
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