Shop Till You Drop: Baybrook Mall by Patrick McCafferty

500 Baybrook Mall
Friendswood, TX 77546
(281) 488-4620

April 2004–Nothing cures boredom and a wallet full of money like a trip to the mall. It has almost become an American pastime for teenagers. When the question, “What do you want to do?” is asked the answer, “Let’s go to the mall!” comes quite often to the mind in certain social groups. A mall is an excellent place to go to pass time and Baybrook Mall is no exception. Located off the Bay Area exit off of I-45, Baybrook Mall is the home to dozens of varying stores, businesses, and restaurants. Baybrook Mall is in the city of Friendswood, next to Webster and Clear Lake on the southeast side of Houston. This area of Friendswood began as a Japanese Colony for growing rice. It all started in 1903 when three-hundred and four acres were purchased by a Japanese businessman named Seito Saibara. In just under one-hundred years the area went from being used for rice patties to becoming a major commercial center. All the rice isn’t quite gone though. There is still Sakkio Japan, a place to get Japanese cuisine in the food court of Baybrook Mall.

I find that Baybrook Mall has the standard set of department stores (including Mervyn’s, Foley’s and Dillard’s). But what sets it apart is the variety of stores located in and around the mall. Clothes, movies, games, and toys can all be purchased inside the mall at such stores as Banana Republic, Sun Coast, Electronic Boutique, and Kay-Bee. The mall appeals to people of both genders. For the ladies there’s Victoria’s Secret, The Body Shop and Body Works, and Chico’s. And for the guys there’s the hardware section of Sears, The Knife Store, Structure, and Dillard’s for men. To satisfy teenagers, there are shops including The Gap, Gadzooks, Sam Goody, Wet Seal, Abercrombie and Fitch, and American Eagle. Kids can go to The Disney Store, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Baby Gap, and Gymboree.

Within a five minute drive outside of the mall stores such as Old Navy, Target, CompUSA, Best Buy, and Petsmart can be found. This variety of stores has made Baybrook Mall the center of commerce for the surrounding communities up to 30 minutes away. And of course these people don’t walk to Baybrook Mall; they drive. One huge problem of going to Baybrook Mall is actually getting there. Going down Bay Area Blvd (the main street) gave me quite a headache.

Something that I noticed about the Mall was the security. In this present time, security is a very important issue to me and a lot of other people. For example, there had been a string of incidents where people were being mugged. Through recent security measures these incidents have been halted. One thing that I think really think helped was the increase in parking lot patrols. They always have at least one of their security personnel in a car patrolling the parking lots during store hours. Guards also frequent the entrances to ensure the stopping of shoplifters. Most stores also have the standard set of cameras.

I entered the mall at the “Talbot’s” entrance, which is one of the four possible entrances to the mall. It just happens to be my favorite because its located conveniently next to the Cinnabon. I always love entering the mall to the smell of fresh made cinnamon buns (and leaving too!). On the average I usually spend about an hour at the mall, walking around the “circle” of stores or just casually sitting on a bench. Watching how other people react to each other at the mall is interesting. A couple in their early 20’s passed me by. I can’t help but think that the look of bliss on their faces was brought about by what they were doing and where they were.

What makes spending money so fun? It seems like everyone who has a shopping bag at the mall has a smile on their face. I went to the For Your Entertainment (FYE) store to get a compact disc I wanted. The guy who rang up my purchase seemed to be enjoying what he was doing, though it’s hard to tell if it’s forced or not. The normal “have a good day” didn’t seem quite as forced out as it usually is at other places. I did find one type of store where the employees looked to not be enjoying themselves to much: shoe stores. Every shoe store that I passed (Nine West, The Athlete’s Foot, and Payless) looked to have the unhappiest employees. The woman at Nine West seemed to be impatient with one customer who had a box of shoes and a receipt – guess the refund wasn’t going well. I can’t really blame the employees at a shoe store for not liking to have to deal with feet and the people who walk on them.

After traveling around the mall for awhile I ventured my way into the food court. The smell of all the mixed cultures of food really hits you and sets and makes it more enjoyable. The abundance of hyper kids can be annoying, but eventually that can be cured with my portable CD player and a good quick meal. It almost seems a necessity to travel to the food court after or during shopping. Every single person there had at least two bags which I thought was a little odd not many window shoppers in the Mall that day. Following buying a gourmet burrito from Taco Bell I went to sit down (with a little difficulty because of the bags just waiting to trip me up). Casually looking around, I saw that there were three types of people in the food court. Those who just came to the mall to get something to eat, those who were on a break from shopping, and those who looked like they were about to collapse from exhaustion. Parents with kids seemed to fall under the exhausted group. The food court is usually the end of my trip at the mall. On a full stomach I like to go home or go out with my friends and enjoy the things I just paid an overpriced top dollar for.

Concluding my trip to the mall I can reflect upon new experiences and the new things I learned. Where you work can greatly influence how you feel about your job. I saw several different employees from various stores all with many different attitudes. Also, I gained an appreciation of how the mall can really be a place to pass some time very quickly and have a lot of fun while doing it. Sure, you could shop online, but you don’t get to experience the product firsthand. Of course there are other malls a little further away and they may not be quite as crowded as Baybrook, but sometimes the people are half the fun.



Baybrook Mall

Sakkio Japan





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