If you live in East Vancouver, you’re probably familiar with Mount Pleasant’s Kingsgate Mall.
The aging retail centre has been a fixture of the neighbourhood for decades.
For many, it has a practical function, with it’s Shoppers Drug Mart, Buy Low, and Liquor Store. For others, it has developed a wierd niche cachet (complete with its own parody Twitter account).
And for some it’s home.
the mall is now closed, go home and think about unrequited love and the people you have disappointed.
— KINGSGATE MALL (@kingsgatemall) March 18, 2014
Earlier tonight, Drex spoke with Vice Magazine freelance writer Lonnie Nadler, who spent 18 consecutive hours there in an effort to understand the weird fascination with the Kingsgate.
“I started to fall in love with it, and I didn’t really know why. There was just this sort of air of mystery, and this strangeness that I’d never felt before. It’s a place that I would talk about to my friends on a regular basis. It got to be a real obsession.”
Nadler says part of what makes the Kingsgate mall so unique is that it seems to exist outside of time. That while malls have become more consumerist, it has retained a unique, but unpretentious identity.
“I realized what I really loved is because this place is so resistant to change, it has this sort of fragmented identity that allows all of this motley crew of people to coexist in this one of space, and none of them feel like they’re outsiders.”
He says that mixture that kept him coming back every day for three years is what inspired him to write the piece.
WATCH: Tribute to Kingsgate Mall
A place as a story
Nadler says part of what makes Kingsgate unique is the people and the characters in it. He says when he decided to write the piece, it helped for him to draw on his background as a fiction writer to paint the picture.
“I thought, if I was going to do justice to this place, that was how I had to approach it.”
He says he had to pitch it to the Vice team twice to get the go ahead – and in the end won them over when he described the people he would write about. The product? A 12,000 word first draft.
“I took so many notes, and there was so much I wanted to talk about. I wanted to capture exactly what my experience was, and that ended up being 12,000 words.”
That full experience involved loitering in the parking lot at six am, right through to being the last customer in Shoppers Drug Mart (where he got his makeup done), and produced an article Vancouver can’t stop talking about.
LISTEN: Drex’s full interview with Lonnie Nadler on the Kingsgate Mall