“My daughter and I drove six hours from Wisconsin to spend all the day in The Mall of America,” Patricia said, waiting for her daughter who is shopping at Victoria’s Secrets.
The Mall of America (MOA) became an attraction for not only the Minnesotans but for all the U.S. and even beyond. “ I am doing a trip in Minnesota with my husband and the MOA was one of the trip’s goals,” Heather, from Wisconsin, said sitting on a bench between two stores. People visit the MOA as they are visiting a museum. The only difference is that they can buy the painting-clothes for not an expensive price.
Everything is done for people like Heather, who come from far away, to attract them in the MOA’s web. The MOA has a strategic situation. It is close to the airport. The light rail line connects the Mall to downtown Minneapolis, bringing people from the area and the airport to Wonderland. It is a huge advantage for the Mall. What else can it ask?
The Mall of America has found its favorite target: the heavy teen market. “We have more teen shops under one roof than any other in the country—mostly for teen women!” Julie Hansen, PR of the MOA said. “We have opened more stores this year alone than we ever have, and several of those cater to women, primarily teens and young adults,” she added.
And the MOA gets it right. Teenage girls like shopping with their friends. No one is happier than a retailer when he sees a bunch of girls coming in his store. “
“The advantage of the MOA is the amount of stores, because you’re in one place and can hit all stores,” said Sarah, 17, who shops here three or four times a year. “I come to the MOA because where I live, St.Charles, there is not my favorite store,” she added.
The MOA can be seen as the paradigm of the consumer society. It can become a nightmare for the consumer. “One of the MOA’s drawbacks is that I spend too much money,” another shopper said, laughing. All is done for people to buy: more than 520 stores and 50 restaurants. And if you want to take a break why not go to see a movie (there are 14 movie screens) or enjoying the attractions. If you go out from the MOA without spending a cent, congratulations! You deserve an award.
The MOA has also its opponents. “ It’s very big; almost too many stores” said Mary, 16, noting the 520 stores under one roof. “It’s really huge and crowded so I prefer smaller shops, ” a student at Macalester said. “ I don’t go to the MOA, I prefer to go to smaller malls,” she added.
But the MOA is only getting bigger. Mall America Phase II, approved by Bloomington City Council in February 7 2000, is zoned for up to 5.7 million square feet on the old site of the Met Center. A connection will also be constructed to link Phase I and Phase II. Mall America Phase II will provide300 apartment units, a business center with conference facilities, spa facilities, restaurants, stores, and cultural attractions. The next phase will also include 1,650 hotel rooms to enhance its appeal to both domestic and international visitors.
More people like Patricia and her daughter are expected to visit the MOA in the future. The mall prepares itself to welcome them.
So the MOA: Hell or Heaven: Make your choice.
Elise Esteves Laranjo is a Hamline University journalism student who lives in Renne, France.