Flushing is always changing. When we thought that the addition of Flushing Mall and Queens Crossing to the many mini-malls and individual shops was enough, we find the construction of yet another shopping complex. This is New World Mall, a modern, glass structure spanning an area between Roosevelt Ave. and Main St. Boldly colored signs on the mall’s exterior advertise for a “J-Mart” and “Grand Restaurant.” But aside from this classy facade New World Mall seems just another over-eager business endeavor.
After months of delay, New World Mall opened to the public this past week, although construction is still taking place. Consequently I didn’t even realize the mall was open until I walked by and saw other people — just as curious as I — entering the building. The only external evidences of operation were a few small businesses selling smartphone accessories and sunglasses setting up shop just outside the mall. But once inside I found a substantial Asian supermarket with quite a number of customers. Taking the escalator to the second floor I discovered an abundance of small Asian shops ranging from hair salons to Chinese medicine stores to clothing shops. Each store was sleek and attractively laid out, much different from the cramped, dingy stalls of Flushing’s mini-malls. Prices were higher than I’d expected from Asian sellers, with shoes averaging around $45. With department-store prices and a modern look, New World Mall is attempting something grander than the isolated Flushing Mall but something more consumer-friendly than the haphazard yet upscale Queens Crossing.
Still, the mall starkly proclaims the money-making scheme that it is as about half the stores are still under construction. Although some are completely finished, others are attempting to operate while workers install furniture: a woman was getting her nails done in the midst of sawdust and disarrayed salon implements. Turning the corner, away from the central hub of shops, leads to empty glass stalls with workmen still drilling and constructing. Downstairs, the mall’s rear entrance still looks half-finished. New World Mall seems impatient to give its customers a taste of what the finished product will be. But doesn’t this half-hearted appearance ruin the classy experience already?
I’d wait another month or so to see how New World Mall resolves itself, and a year or two to see if its business idea is really sustainable. But in the meantime I hope the mall can benefit the Flushing community positively. For it’s own sake I hope New World Mall doesn’t turn out another economic failure as many of the other shopping complexes around Flushing have become. Flushing lacks a place, other than the library, where people can meet and do something worthwhile. With its many shops, this mall might be able to satisfy a part of this need.