Travels With Bob: When In Florida, Become A Mall Rat
By Bob Nesoff
The winter exodus from the North and Canada to Florida annually takes on the look of an old camel caravan crossing the desert.
So many people opt to drive instead of flying so that they have a means of transportation for the three to four months they are in the Sunshine State. Cheaper, by far, than renting for the extended stay. And a must to take into consideration is the fact that there aren’t always rental cars available and when they are, there are so many tack-ons that you may as well buy the darn thing.
So, there is a pool in the community you’ve rented…or where you own the Snowbird Castle. Cards, golf, gossip, sure, all of that, but even that gets boring after a while. What else is there to do?
If you don’t mind walking at an indoor, air-conditioned venue, there are several. Go shopping. One destination with enough options is located in Pompano Beach where you can wander, walk a lot and get your steps in, and either spend money or just peruse close to 200 possibilities.
The Festival Market Mall on Sample Road between I-95 and Florida Turnpike is one option that rarely disappoints. The variety of everything from international food to jewelry to clothing and luggage to carry everything you’ve bought is available in an indoor setting that runs for almost a quarter of a mile.
We had been here about five or six years ago and the major purchase was a t-shirt commemorating the terrorist attack on the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo. The inscription on the shirt was “Je Suis Charlie,” loosely translated “Follow Charlie” or “I am Charlie,” showing support.
The shopkeeper, a petite French woman, asked if we were journalists because there was not a big demand for the shirt. Last month after walking into a t-shirt booth, she actually remembered the encounter. That typifies the people in this mall.
At the Golden Bay jewelry pavilion, the owner, Asi, took great care to ensure that a ring being purchased fit comfortably. He said that after a day or two if it isn’t comfortable, come back and it will be made right at no charge.
The Golden Bay, one of the larger shops at the Festival Marketplace, sells fine jewelry, possibly more than any of the others. We opted for a gold ring with a large black onyx stone. Asi’s sales rep who was dealing with us, did manage to lower the price after we asked. It came out to be a fair price and they were happy with the sale as we were walking away with the ring. Asi himself took care of properly sizing it.
An interesting spot was a shop called the “La Hacienda Kosher Grocery.” No one working there seemed to know why it bore that name. Nor could anyone explain why a shop with a sign at the front advertising “Glatt Kosher Food,” aimed at the practicing Jewish population, had a big section in its cooler selling a variety of bacon and other similar foods. One of the mysteries of entrepreneurship.
There are also a multitude of souvenir shops, art shops (beware of signs that say, “Going Out of Business,” or “50% Off.” We had some serious doubts after looking at a piece of artwork depicting the Eiffel Tower. We passed.