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Let’s Work at the Mall!

As a freelancer, I’m always on the lookout for places outside of my home where I can go to work. Sometimes I have multiple appointments during a given day, and coming home between them just isn’t feasible, other times I just want a change of scenery to kick my creative juices into gear, and still other times I just want to be around people for a while.

Over the past few years I’ve spent a lot of time in various Starbucks (and other coffee shops) and Panera franchises. They generally have good lighting, comfortable seating, and available electrical outlets. Of course, they also are businesses that thrive on constant turn over in clientele . . . so it’s important that I spend enough money on their wares that I don’t become an unwelcome visitor. And my work often requires me to keep several reference books open around me, so I usually take up a larger table or booth, which ups the amount of money they’re expecting to make from the footprint I’m occupying.

When my budget won’t allow me to spend the requisite amount on “table rent,” I’ll often go to the local library. Oddly, I find the library LESS conducive to work. The seats aren’t nearly as comfortable, and sufficient space is quite often harder to find. And although there are plenty of people there, the quiet and  subdued atmosphere make is seem less like I’m out in the world getting a bit of socialization.

Last week, though, I inadvertently discovered what might become my new go to spot for working outside the house—the food court at the Southcenter Mall.

I know it sounds crazy, but stay with me on this for a minute.

The new (well, not THAT new anymore) food court is broken up into smaller seating nooks rather than being a big open auditorium of fried food. Each one feels like a little deck complete with a bit of greenery that blocks the sight and sound of shoppers walking up and down the promenade. There’s LOTS of relatively comfortable seating with plenty of four-person tables, and no one CARES how long you stay there. And, being designed for the modern, mobile clientele, there are electrical outlets all over the place!

It gets a high volume of traffic during meal times, but during the weekdays is pretty much empty most of the rest of the time . . . even after school kids don’t go to the mall to hang out anymore. And while the space SERVES the food kiosks, it doesn’t BELONG to any of them. None of the vendors are going to give you the stink eye for staying a long time, and they don’t care WHAT food you buy. Indeed, you could probably get away with buying NOTHING (though I generally at least get a soft drink from one of the counters to “pay rent” for my space).

Call me crazy, but the mall might turn out to be the BEST offsite workspace in the Kent/Renton area . . . that is, until holiday season rolls around again.

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