It is 12:20 p.m. on a Friday and the parking lot in front of Sikes & Kohn’s Country Mall is lined with 50 cars or more. The large, plain building looks more warehouse than mart. And “mall”? It’s one big store in the Alabama boondocks.
“You come here for the discounts and brands not the atmosphere,” a poster on Yelp writes.
On the mall’s north side is a water tower. It says “Pine Level, AL.” That’s 26 miles south of Exit 9 at the nearest big city, Montgomery. The water tower and the mall. That’s it.
On the mall’s east side is lightly-traveled U.S. 231. The road takes you to Troy 15 miles to the south. Along the roadsides it is trees and more trees.
The store has been around since 1970, I read. “Blue Jeans USA,” proclaims a sign above the front door. It is the area’s answer to the modern outlet malls. Other signs along the road list the brands of men’s and women’s clothing, hats, shoes, sun glasses, gear, etc. Columbia, Cole Haan, Ray Ban, Oakley, Levi’s, Ariat, Justin, Allen Edmonds, Guy Harvey, North Face, Teva, Kavu.
Nebra wandered through the large store for a while and decided against shopping. Time was short. We had a destination to reach by mid-afternoon. Still, Nebra the shopper, said there were many good deals.
An unusual store in an unusual location. I am beginning to see we made a mistake in our travel plans. No way to do it all justice in only five full days.