How I Grew A Bit at the Mall of America

Mrs S and I found ourselves at the Mall of America last evening. I had an appointment at the Apple Genius bar, we were kid free this evening so you know.. lets see if we could capture the old magic at the mall and go for dinner and a walk. Vain hope. Since we were going to the Mall I suggested to Mrs S that we take the new Red Line bus from Apple Valley to mall. I’d like to see what a $7,000 subsidized ride feels like. Well even 7K isn’t enough to get Mrs S out the car and on the side walk at 35 degrees to wait for a bus. She’s soft that way you know.

The mall is always a place to make keen observations about the state of humanity. It could be said that I avoid humanity and that’s altogether unwarranted. I do tend to avoid crowds and people, being more of a homebody in my golden years. Probably why I like Timberwolves games, a nice chance to be alone in a public venue. [sic]

Some observations from a Saturday Night at the Mega Mall:

First off a grand learning from last night. Always walk behind Mrs S when she’s strolling through the mall or the ladies department at Macy’s. 

This was one of those epiphanies I wish I’d had 30 years ago. At the Mall we usually park in the in a section of ramp requires us to walk through Macy’s to get into the mall and to the more interesting stores; The Apple Store, the Microsoft Store, the Swiss Army Knife place. When I walk through Macy’s, or any other department store for that matter, I tend to hoof it, walk fast and with purpose. I’m not distracted by offerings or displays because, well I don’t give shit and haven’t spent a dime in a Department store in 15 years. My transit time through Macy’s I’d guess, about 2 minutes from door to door. Mrs S on the other hand… she’s a bowser, she likes look at lame stuff like clothing, makeup, jewelry.. all stuff that takes time away from good stuff like electronics and firearms. For the last 30 years and for the first few minutes of last night we would walk into the store together, I’d hoof it to the door only to realize that I’d lost her and then I’d spend the next 20 minutes in sheer frustration trying to find her and calling a cellphone that for some reason she turns off between calls.

It’s a buzzkill.

But last night I had the epiphany that if I consciously walk behind her, at her pace… I can save about 10 minutes in Macy’s by eliminating half the search time on the back end. Brilliant. And there’s an added bonus, since I was with her she didn’t feel compelled to tell me what she saw which saves me from further embarrassment when I cannot successfully answer one of the little pop quizzes she likes to give at the end conversations when she correctly senses that I may not have been paying as rapt attention as she’d like.

So from now on, I’ll walk behind her and try to control my non-verbals as we spontaneously start shopping for shoes on what was clearly a computer trip. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m working on it, or as they say I’m growing. 

People in Wrong Jobs:

To the bar manager who, when asked “do you get ESPN 3” and “we’re trying to find the Auburn game” responded with “Hmm I’m not a sports fan so I don’t know” and then glanced a list of teams and channels and said “Auburn? I don’t think we get that one”. If we were in a Wine Bar or a some black turtleneck mineral water place I would have cut Serge a break, but the patch on his polo said “Sports Bar” and therefore I’d expect him to know a think or two about freaking sport. Vain hope.

People in Right Jobs:

In the “Right Job” department the dude at Fire Lake, the bar and grill at the new Raddison “Blu”. When we asked him if they took reservations for groups he handed us a business card with the number and email of the woman who could help help us and explained that although he couldn’t do it, she would be only too happy to work with us on securing space even if we didn’t have a hard number on attendees. I wonder if after a few years of working the John Q. Public if he’ll be as bitter and crabby as that Yo Serge guy was.

People Who Think the Mall is Cool
and a reminder that there are places far worse than Minneapolis and the MOA. 

I my relationship with Mall of America is based a classic love/hate thing. Last night it was mostly hate, mostly because the place was really packed. And when I say packed I mean packed with hoards of people, specifically HOARDS of big huge white people wearing red Nebraska gear who were there the to try to forget the shame of seeing their beloved Cornhuskers lose to the lowly Minnesota Golden Gophers.  And I noticed that when the mall is loaded up with tens of thousands of Nebraskan’s it is impossible to get a seat at any of the meat chains or sports bars in the place; Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters, Tony Roma’s, Famous Daves.. those places had tons of people patiently waiting for a table. On the other hand the sushi places, Asian Fusion place, crepes restaurant, completely empty. I’ve been to Nebraska a lot over the years, some on business some passing through. Nebraska reminds me a lot of Sacramento CA flat, boring, nowhere to eat. Only thing is in Sacramento you can drive to San Francisco, Tahoe, Wine Country. In Nebraska you can drive to… the Mall of America.

Good Things to do at the MOA

I like the mall as place to stroll, especially in the winter. If you do all three floors it’s about a mile and a half. Mile and a half at 70 degrees. Nice. I also like the mall because.

You can walk there, guess that’s it.


But at the same time I find the place to be an affront to my sensibilities. There are 500+ stores in the mall and of those 15 are actually interesting, 5 sell stuff that’s necessary to life, the rest… which is what’s completely wrong with America in my opinion; the marketing of an unsustainable consumption based lifestyle. Big words for people buying all sorts of shit they don’t need and can’t afford. I think it’s why I see my future in a small town, or intimate neighborhood where the temptations aren’t as atrocious.

I actually thing the macro trends are against malls and big box retail, but that the subject of another blog.


Filed under Life

2 responses to “How I Grew A Bit at the Mall of America

  1. Tim

    I find the Mall of America kind of interesting in that it’s probably the one place in Minnesota that everyone goes to at least once in a while. A lot of people think that the State Fair is the one place everyone goes, but I think the MOA fits that better. So, you get quite a wide range of humanity under one roof. Not that there aren’t downsides to that, of course.

    Plus, it’s good for things like shoe shopping, where I want to physically test out an item and be able to easy try a range of them as well. Or gift shopping, when I just wander around until I find something. I don’t do these things during the busiest times, though; I try to go at off times.

    I miss some of the more unusual stores they used to have, particularly during the 90’s. That set the MOA apart from other malls. Now it seems like it’s more dominated by clothing stores than it used to be, some of which are even duplicated.

    I think you’re right about malls not being the future of retail, for the most part (at least in the U.S.). Major destinations like the MOA will stick around, but places like Burnsville Center won’t. Same with big-box retail — I think the high-end department stores will endure, due to the added value of the service they provide, but not the mid- and lower-range ones, since I think the mass-market discounters are already taking their place (and online shopping is threatening them both).

Lemmie know what you think..

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