An Outing to Suburbia

exterior of the Connecticut Post Mall

It’s no secret: I love buying things for myself and for my friends. Perhaps even more so, I love convincing my friends to buy things for themselves. This is enough of a personality trait for me that in my friend group, talking someone into making a purchase or treating themselves is referred to as “Caseying.” That’s why, when a free Saturday night arrived for both of us, and my friend Aaron agreed to come along with me on a shopping expedition, I was elated at the prospect of helping him pick out things for himself and Caseying him into actually taking them up to the register. 

A retail wonderland.

While The Shops at Yale, a small selection of stores in Downtown New Haven, are fun to visit and window-shop in on a spontaneous night on campus, I wanted to get out of town for a bit and go to a place that some might say is dying: suburban America, with streets of big-box chain stores, sit-down chain restaurants, and perhaps the crown jewel: the shopping mall. The best place to get a taste of this kind of world is a town just ten minutes west of New Haven: Milford. Boston Post Road, otherwise known as US Highway 1, runs right through the town and couldn’t look more different from downtown New Haven. In fact, it so closely resembles the kinds of towns I go to for shopping back home in Georgia that sometimes I feel like I’m there again. The Connecticut Post Mall, right off of I-95, is home to a three-story Macy’s, a huge Cinemark multiplex, a Target, and hundreds of smaller stores scattered between the anchors.

One of the Zipcars on campus, parked outside the Yale Financial Aid office, one of the many locations where cars can be conveniently picked up for a few hours.

Instead of taking a $16 Uber from campus to Milford, we decided to take advantage of one of the many Zipcars on campus. Zipcar allows you to rent cars by the hour, usually for around $7/8, and each car has a special credit card inside that can be used to purchase gas, so you don’t have to pay to fill up yourself. Once we packed into our Ford Focus, we didn’t head straight to the mall just yet. We would need fuel for our shopping trip, and the best place for that on the way is the Texas Roadhouse located in West Haven. Say what you will about sit-down chain restaurants decorated in the style of the American West, but Texas Roadhouse always hits the spot. We filled up on the unlimited cinnamon butter rolls, rattlesnake bites (basically jalapeno poppers), and huge steaks with crispy fries on the side. I almost ordered a frozen strawberry margarita as well (they are incredible), but after remembering I was driving, I went with a Diet Coke, otherwise known as the elixir of life.

Pro tip: before you go to Texas Roadhouse, download the app and create a profiile. Use the app to get on the waitlist, and you’ll get a free appetizer. I’m not saying to keep creating email addresses and do this every time you go so you never have to pay for an appetizer, but I can’t stop you from doing that.

We parked on the Macy’s side of the mall since we knew we would be spending most of our time in there (I have the gold store credit card for a reason), and then we unleashed ourselves on the ground floor, which houses men’s clothing and shoes. I helped Aaron pick out some new jeans and boots, and I chose a few shirts to round out my expansive wardrobe. Once we had almost made our decisions on what to buy, we had to go to all the sections we had been in and double check that we hadn’t missed anything important. Shopping with me has been referred to by a few as “whiplash-inducing,” but I think I’m still pretty systematic about it. After zipping around the store a few more times, we went to the checkout counter, and I somehow Caseyed Aaron into applying for the store credit card when the sales associate predictably asked him about it. Fortunately for me, he was approved, and so his new stuff was 15% off! The things we do for our friends.

We browsed a few more stores, including H&M, before it was almost time to return our Zipcar. In fact, the whole outfit I’m wearing in my profile picture here was bought at H&M on this night. On our way out, I had to stop by a place in the food court and grab another Diet Coke for the ride home. Interestingly enough, there are three places in the food court that serve Chinese food, and the best one by far is called Texas Bar-B-Q Factory. Don’t ask me to explain. Their Diet Coke is super fizzy and delicious. Maybe next time I visit the mall, I’ll get some General Tso’s Chicken from there too, if only I can talk myself out of stopping at Texas Roadhouse on the way.