The need for strong, independent local journalism
is more urgent than ever. Please support the city we
love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.

I Love Lloyd Center

An appreciation of Lloyd Center, the Pacific Northwest’s best shopping mall.

Left to my own devices, I would not know what a Tanasbourne was.

I know this because most of my co-workers are blissfully unawares. And yet, because my wife's lifestyle requires containers from a store that sells nothing but, and because she wanted to at least pop into the Nordstrom bridal store in Seattle, I have been to pretty much every notable mall in the Pacific Northwest—even Clackamas Town Center. In fact, I have been to Clackamas Town Center four times in my life. How many people who voted for Obama can claim that?

But there is only one mall I go to willingly. That is Lloyd Center, our region's greatest shopping mall. There are many places you could shop during this holiday season, but only one where you should. Here's why.

It has perfect lighting. A mall should channel a VHS home video of Tiffany's '87 tour; it should feel like your turn on the once-popular board game Mall Madness. Like Roxette, those bright white corridors of Lloyd Center got the look.

It has all of the best stores. Lloyd Center has everything from H&M to a Sears with hardware. Do you need something they don't sell at Lloyd Center? Is it some bougie bullshit? Is it a crack pipe? Lloyd Center has everything 98 percent of us need. Of the remaining 2 percent, half are 1 percenters in the Occupy sense, and the other half are 1%ers in the biker-gang sense.

It's a little weird. Lloyd Center's lineup is quite dynamic, and there are plenty of odd details. Why is there a Turkish store? What is Chicken Connection? Why is there a college inside the mall? Would it really be that hard to have a full McDonald's instead of a McDonald's Express?

There's some room for improvement. Everyone needs a little space to dream of a better future for themselves, for their children. In a more perfect world, the Lloyd Center Marshalls is a T.J. Maxx. Can you imagine, fellow Maxxinistas? The chains are owned by the same company and, yes, are essentially the same. And yet, Marshalls sucks. Why, if you have the technology to operate a T.J. Maxx, would you instead operate a Marshalls? I have no idea. It would be like In-N-Out making Big Macs. And yet…

There are walls. Why would anyone build a stupid open-air mall in Oregon, where it rains about half the year? Phoenix is a good place for a Bridgeport Village-type lifestyle center with a California Pizza Kitchen and a Crate & Barrel, because no one jogs to the car to avoid getting sun on them. In Tualatin, it is an absurdity.

There's plenty of parking. Have you ever had trouble parking at Lloyd Center? Me neither. On Black Friday, I might finally expect to see what the third level of the parking structure looks like. Is there a fourth level? I honestly have no idea, because I've never needed to go past the second.

You could hardly want for more options in a food court. Hawaiian plate lunch? Check. Fifties diner? Check. Teriyaki? Check. Cinnabon? Check.

There's something that used to be better that insiders can complain about. Time was, the Lloyd Center Applebee's had a secret menu of artisanal Jell-O shots. No more. You really had to be there, man.

It has an ice rink. Yup.

It has history. Olympic figure-skating great Tonya Harding learned to skate on that very rink!

It's not unsafe, but it is racist-resistant. I like a mall that keeps it a little street, because it wards off the undesirables (rural folk, Volvo drivers, Apple Watch owners) and because it's pretty much the only place I can check out what style of clothing youths are favoring. Lloyd Center has some street cred from a non-injurious gang shooting inside the mall in 2010, but I've always found it very welcoming. If you live close-in on the eastside, you may hear neighbors denigrate Lloyd Center. These are your typical purveyors of classic liberal soft-racism, the Stop Demolishing Portlanders who file complaints about bars that book hip-hop DJs and oppose development of new apartments that increase density. These people don't go to Lloyd Center, and Lloyd Center is better for it.

GO: Buy all your Christmas presents at Lloyd Center, 2201 Lloyd Center, 282-2511, lloydcenter.com.