Shoppers Find a Cool Bargain in Valley Malls

Maybe it’s just a case of simple math: Seven bucks buys you two hours of air conditioning in a movie, but for absolutely nothing you can hang out at the mall until your feet are sore from walking.

Those are the kind of calculations that sent Valley residents for the blessed cool of the nearest enclosed shopping center on Monday and Tuesday, when temperatures hit 100 and 96 degrees respectively in Van Nuys.

And flock to the malls they did. Fallbrook Mall manager Eric Knudson reported a 22% increase in shoppers on Saturday and Sunday compared to the same weekend last year, which he attributed in good part to the heat.

“There were hordes of people,” Knudson said. “There were tons of people buying ice cream.”


The sentiment was echoed by Topanga Plaza manager Clyde Ahl, who estimated that the heat wave brought about 20% more shoppers into his mall this past weekend than in the previous weekend.

Tuesday was the sixth day of blistering heat that set record temperatures on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday.

Simi Valley grandmother Jackie Ford didn’t need a thermometer to tell her that it was one of the hottest days of the year outside.

It was so hot in Ford’s un-air-conditioned home on Friday evening that she packed up her family and rented a motel room so they could get some sleep.


She spent Tuesday at Fallbrook Mall, killing time there before she could escape to her air-conditioned workplace.

“Menopause and heat don’t go together,” said Ford, who strolled through the mall in West Hills with her son and granddaughter.

Even going to the pool, which would mean exposing herself to a blazing sun, didn’t seem appealing.

“The thing that surprises me is the humidity,” said Ford, a high school teacher. “It feels like Hawaii.”


The back-to-school sales and the end-of-summer sales meant nothing to Canoga Park resident Yitzhak Aharoni, who came to Fallbrook Mall with his two sons, Eytan, 7, and Daniel, 2 1/2.

“There’s nothing we can do outside so we came to the mall to cool off,” said Aharoni. “We can’t stand the heat.”

Aharoni and his 10-year-old daughter, Anat, have slept outside on blankets for two nights.

Standing in the mall’s courtyard, Chatsworth resident Rick Hutchinson admitted he came to the mall just to “hang around and feel the cool breeze.”


He said he will be moving soon to San Diego, partly to be closer to his school, Mesa College, but also partly due to the fact that he can’t stand Los Angeles’ stuffy climate.

Sweat trickled down the back of Pat Coffman’s neck Monday as he played a video game called Primal Rage in an arcade at the Topanga Plaza mall. Despite appearances, he said he was much more comfortable there than at home.

“I didn’t want to stay at home because it was way too hot, even with the air on,” said Coffman, who will be a sophomore at UC Santa Barbara this fall. “It’s cooler in here. Even if it costs more to play this stupid game.”

The roots of Andrea Klapova’s curly hair were damp and her face was flushed when she first walked into the mall with her three young children. The Calabasas homemaker’s first thought that morning, she said, was, “We’re going to the mall to beat the heat.”


Some shoppers kept cool by thinking about cooler climates. Others bought lots of ice cream. Still others just prayed for a break.

“Please let it rain,” said Ford, of Simi Valley.