A NEWER, SAFER SHARPSTOWN
I recently bought a capture card for my computer, with the intentions of going through old videotapes, and pulled out one at at random. The movies on the tape were pretty terrible--The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again
, The Incredible Mr. Limpet
, and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
. Well, the last one is enjoyable at least, but hardly good cinema.
In any case, I was not copying the tape for the movies, as the movies are abysmal also in terms of picture quality, but of course, for the commercials. Commercials aren't generally sold and resold for posterity reasons, and have some inherent rarity to them, and they're not subject to copyright strikes. I doubt the marketing department Disney or WarnerMedia cares a whole lot about the Apple Dumpling Gang or Mr. Limpet, but the lawyers (or Don Knotts' estate, as he starred in both movies) certainly would.
The commercials are the usual prime time schlock for what was on TBS (Apple Dumpling Gang was on WGN), the usual food, toys, health and beauty products, tourism...and to be honest, as of this writing, I haven't gone through them fully. I've still got tons of tapes to go through, and I doubt I'll be able to find some of the things I really want (I'm oddly nostalgic for the mid-to-late 2000s "MONK is sponsored by...." bumpers). Life is full of surprises, and one of them did catch my eye, an early 1990s ad for Sharpstown Center in Houston!
Sharpstown was one of the first enclosed malls in Texas (and certainly in Houston), and made industry headlines just a few years shy of twenty years after its founding, when it went through a then-revolutionary process of adding a second level onto an operational first one. You can see a mini-documentary here
, which describes how a new structure was added onto the original mall, the existing mall shored up to support the additional load, and the old roof removed and converted into new mall space. It helped the mall compete against then-competitors like Westwood (located less than three miles to the southwest) and The Galleria (less than four miles to the northeast).
But by the early 1990s, Sharpstown wasn't a leading innovator anymore and had gotten a pretty rough reputation due to the deterioration of the southwest Houston area. To attempt to save face, it completed another remodel to add skylights and a movie theater, as well as updating and adding additional stores.
It was in this era that a new advertising campaign, seen here
The most interesting thing about this ad is that in addition to the typical "fashion, food, and fun" angle of mall advertising, the ads emphasize increased security by its mall cop porcupine mascot, P.Q. Pine.
It begins innocently enough. There are some great facades of storefronts, including a shot of the food court...
But the commercial quickly veers into the fact that besides new stores and some new décor, it needed something else...
"We've added door attendants to look out for you, and even carry your packages!"
Right. We know that the security guards are not there for shoppers' convenience, they're to deter shoplifters. And "carry your packages" is probably code for "armed escort back to your car after hours".
"Wow, have we turned on the brights, so shopping's safer, even at night!"
All this certainly puts on the impression that Sharpstown was not safe, and in fact, just a year or two after this commercial aired, Foley's announced it would leave Sharpstown for Westwood Mall. Ultimately, Foley's did stay at Sharpstown (and Westwood closed soon after), but the eventual departure of JCPenney and Montgomery Ward rendered Sharpstown irrelevant by the early 21st century, and today it is known as PlazAmericas.
To save bandwidth, the commercial (as well as other/future uploads to the channel) is not downloadable from this website. You can, however, give yt-dlg
a spin to download it and your other favorite YouTube (and beyond) videos.
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