We are still astounded each time we travel outside of New Jersey. The differences in the local society and overall “vibe” change considerably – just a short drive in any direction! (Usually happens the further you get from a “metropolitan center.”)
Case in point is the Lehigh Valley Mall, which we visited recently.
The contrast is different in many ways compared to NJ malls.
What was different about the Lehigh Valley Mall?
- PACKED. This mall was 10x more crowded than most NJ malls we routinely go to. There are a lot of theories – not sure I can pick which one fits. Economic, social, technological. Why are malls in NJ – with supposed better economic health – less crowded? Are people more in debt? Busy doing other things? Or is it a social thing – maybe there’s more “going on” in NJ – thus, no time to go to the mall, whereas Pennsylvania might be more boring, and the mall is still a “fun” thing to do?
- Obesity. Pennsylvania is definitely fatter than NJ. See the stats.
- Friendlier. Most of the store associates we encountered were profoundly more engaging and helpful than in NJ. That is a good thing.
- Foreign languages. I was taken aback by the number of non-American conversations we heard. At one point I wondered if I was drugged, kidnapped, and taken to a different country.
- Mixed race couples. The number of mixed-race couples we saw was definitely higher than in NJ. Not that we care, just an observation.
- Tats. Finally – the number of people with blatantly obvious tattoos was also significantly higher. Like almost anyone under 50. Full sleeves on so many people!
Perhaps the people of PA are a little more able to be “influenced.” Who knows. But for anyone with an open eye and open mind – it’s clear as day – that the area is way different.
No big deal – just very interesting.