In its heyday, Regency Square Mall was a bastion of commercialism bringing shoppers, mallrats, and Freeman High School students ditching class in to view its wares and wander its halls. Regency’s popularity soared rapidly throughout the 1980s and ’90s, causing the demand for retail space to flourish. Since that time, however, stiff competition from other malls pushed its popularity into decline. Now, like a D-list boy band, it’s attempting a comeback. We sat down with Regency, nicknamed “Old Reggie,” to talk about the good times, the low points, and the future.
Tell me about the beginning. What was your childhood like?
The ‘70s were the shit, man. And I was the cat’s ass of malls north of the river. Every day was a nonstop party from 11:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. I still count the time Richard Simmons randomly showed up as one of the best days of my life.
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You fell out of the public eye for a number of years. What did that feel like?
It’s been a rollercoaster. At first, I felt a real sense of abandonment; even KB Toys left me. The early 2000s were the low point. New malls opened and the crowds just vanished overnight. I found myself thrust into a terribly lonely place and it made me act like a fool. I pushed others away. I was a real asshole to Cloverleaf Mall when it was on its way out.
I also did desperate things to appear energetic and youthful. I began drinking heavily. I started retailing clothing exclusively from Hot Topic and even wore some myself. I got an “Eat Shit Short Pump” tattoo, which I’m totally not proud of now. But with age comes wisdom, I just had to get old enough to see the pain I caused myself and others.
You’re on the downhill side of 40. What inspired you to put yourself out there now?
I think of Willow Lawn as my hero and guide. She taught me that sometimes when you think you have reached the brink, you can come back! She advised that I spend a lot of time working on learning how to love myself and she was right.
I’ve started dating again. I went on a few dates with China Max, but we both realized it wasn’t going to work long term. I still consider him a close friend. I’m now happily in a polyamorous relationship with Charlotte Russe and Charming Charlie, but I’m also excited to see where a few talks with Regal Cinemas will go.
What are your plans for the future?
I’ve realized that once I have fully learned how to feel love again, I can become the center of awkward first dates that I was meant to be. I want to be a destination for more than just cheap knickknacks, overpriced lingerie, and whatever the hell The Walking Company sells. When people think Reggie, I want them to think about breweries, a laser tag arena, and maybe a trampoline park. I said to myself, “let’s think outside the box.” Short Pump has a train that kids can ride, but that’s just so passé. Let’s get some velociraptors for a petting zoo or some shit like that.
Regency Square Mall’s rebirth is expected to continue for the next several years. Time will tell as to whether or not the improvements while be enough to keep up with Short Pump’s broad appeal to shoppers, foodies, and people who just like sitting in traffic.
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