I’m Not The Shorting Sort, But I’d Short Simon Properties If I Were

I hit the local mall every couple of months when I have one of my vehicles serviced. The garage (who am I kidding, it’s not a garage; my Great Uncle Tony had a garage–I go to an Automotive Service Center which is a fast food restaurant of oil changery) that I use is in the out lot of the Battlefield Mall, owned by Simon Properties. I’ve been fairly impressed with the mall over the years, as it’s always been pretty busy and has had few vacancies (compared to my next-most-recent memories of Crestwood Plaza ten years ago, which was a movie theatre and a lumber showroom, or so it seemed with all the plywood on the storefronts).

Things must be changing.

I’ve noticed a couple more vacancies in the last couple of months and a whole lot of renovation, which means store turnover which might not be as bad as vacancies, but it’s not good.

Then I noticed that the lights don’t get turned on until 8:30; last year, when I got to the interior Starbucks at 8:10, the lights were all on for the mall walkers and early employees. But the lights were out and the mall was relying on natural light through the skylights for illumination. All right, I thought, someone at corporate is making small changes to save big dollars in the aggregate.

But there’s this sink in the men’s room.

Every time I’ve been into the mall since summer, the same sink has been “temporarily” out of service. Starting in May through August at least. I haven’t been back to the mall in about 2300 miles, so I’ll be back in to see if it’s been fixed yet in a couple of weeks. I’m not sanguine at this point. When I was in a couple weeks ago, the soap dispenser on the sink next to it was also broken.

It makes me feel like a detail-oriented stock analyst to dig deeply like this, to visit the locations and businesses I’m considering for buy or sell recommendations or merger and acquisition targets. Which I’m actually not, I’m just a guy using the bathroom at the mall.

But when one reads Forbes for the articles and not the pictures, one must be forgiven for framing every day experiences in terms of stock market analysis.