PITTSBURG — It saddens me every time I hear about a mall closing and I get worried another will close each time I pass a vacant storefront in malls that are still open.

The reported cause of the downfall of malls is the economic downturns and the obvious change in shopping habits, along with other factors.  

It is all too easy to go online and put in your card information instead of driving to the mall. We don’t have to go out into the heat, into the snow or travel across town.

As we continue to spend money online we begin to lose part of what made the malls so great.

Interaction with others — the experience.

My favorite childhood mall has already closed, the Great Mall of the Great Plains in Olathe.

My mom was big into shopping and my dad was into having fun — that mall had it all. Of course my main interest was Jeepers, an inside amusement park.

We would get dressed up just to go the mall — my brother in his adorable little overalls, my sister in something neon and my usual jeans and a t-shirt.

It was quite an ordeal to go to the mall. My mom would call my aunt and my cousins would be there — along with as many friends as we could stuff in the car.

The place was quite special to us. Every time we passed the “dollar store” we would hear the music of the gum ball machine and we had to stop and get a piece. Each of us would leave with our own bag of goodies from there — we would proudly display a whole line of colorful, tasty Lip Smackers.

At the mall we had our hand prints on the wall of what used to be a pretzel store — now demolished.

The mall had a spongy breakfast-themed area for children to climb on. It was a big deal back then to be able to jump from the bacon to the eggs.

My family always filled my brothers stroller with bags of clothing and who-knows-what my mom had to buy — mostly decorations.

I still go to the mall, and it is still a big deal. We round everyone up and walk around each store until something catches our eye — having a good time, laughing and sharing stories as we move store to store.

Aside from interacting with family and friends, online shopping doesn’t bring much benefit for the local community either — fewer employees (unless you are talking about working in a warehouse) nor does it provide the same shopping experience.

What I hope comes of this, in the least, is a new, but similar experience.

As malls with big retail stores are disappear from the malls, I hope people will begin to enjoy local small businesses in a similar way — which is already showing here in Pittsburg with our mom and pop cafes, new coffee shops and boutiques and the remodeling of Pittsburg’s historic buildings.

 — Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.