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Are They Shopping Malls Or Mauls?

Dec 1, 2007
Let's hear it for shopping malls! They're not just for shopping anymore. Now they're multi-dimensional destinations, capitalistic creations of convenience, places to shop and stop - for services. You can have your nails manicured and your eyes examined. You can have your shoes repaired and your body put back in shape. Today's developers put the "all" in mall.

The "all" includes child care. Whether they're called kiddie camps, tot lots or play prisons, they free parents to be freer with their money. The hand that isn't pushing a stroller can carry another bag.

You can carry out food or eat in. Restaurants run the gamut from fast food to slow food, from one-wipe napkins in a dispenser to linen napkins on a table, from places to fuel to places to meet. We have to eat, but we don't have to go home to do it.

Restaurants are part of the selling-center psychology. So is music. Music sooths the savage shopper. It relaxes the hand on the purse strings. Locating the large department stores at opposite ends of the complex is also part of the psychology - we walk past other stores. Of course, when we buy from one store, the bags tell other stores we're bullish on buying and ready to charge again.

Even the fountain in the center of the complex is multi-purposed. It provides a relaxing view, a place to meet and a place for husbands to throw pennies and wish their wives would appear.

The pennies are collected and given to local charities. This provides community involvement. So do cookies sold by Girl Scouts and concerts performed by youth groups. The mall is the twenty-first century town square. The town crier has been replaced by a neon activity board and the public hangings are now sales to die for.

There are sales for every holiday. There are grand opening sales and going out of business sales - and for me there are rainy day sales. When it rains, I exercise by walking all three levels - taking the stairs, not the escalators. Considering the purchases I've had to return, window shopping exercises my judgment too.

Sometimes I unintentionally exercise looking for my car. I'm sure I'm not the only one who forgets where I park. Maybe Mrs. Fields and Cinnabon should have kiosks in the parking garage. Then we could find our cars by following the crumbs we'd dropped.
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KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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