Column: A good shopping mall can be a hall of fun and amusement

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 22, 2002

&uot;This place has got everything.&uot; &045; John Belushi as Joliet Jake Blues, while driving through a mall in &uot;The Blues Brothers,&uot; 1980

A trip to the mall can be amusing &045; almost like a museum of cultural oddities, if you pay close enough attention. Large malls generally reach every target market out there &045; they truly have something for everyone. If you know what to look for, the mall can be an eye-opening experience.

Have you ever seen that store called Perfumania? It’s a store that, as one might expect, sells nothing but perfume. Actually, they probably sell a few other things too. Anyway, this must be a store for the people who find Herbergers’ selection too limited. I almost feel sorry for the people who work there. Can you imagine the perfume-induced headaches they must get? Besides the overpowering smell, everything there is highly flammable, too. I would hope that they have a &uot;zero tolerance&uot; policy for smoking.

Email newsletter signup

Then there’s those dollar stores. These stores sell the kinds of things that didn’t quite meet the rigid guidelines for inclusion in the Harriet Carter catalog. Their names usually suggest bargains. Their inventory seems to be a mishmash of party favors, discontinued CDs and video games, kitchen items, bootleg toys, medicines even the FDA has never heard of, and, oddly enough, grocery items from other countries. I guess one never knows when the family will have a craving for breakfast cereals from Guam.

Don’t forget about clothing stores. Actually, I don’t think that’s possible, since they only make up about 70 percent of the mall. What’s going on in these stores? I used to know my waist size, but now every time I try on jeans they fit like they’re about five sizes too large. Are they using some new unit of measure for clothing sizes now? People are being deceived into looking ridiculous. I see all kinds of people whose pants are so oversized that not only do the legs completely engulf their shoes, you can also tell whether the wearer prefers boxers or briefs. Talk about crimes of fashion!

Nail shops have really multiplied the last few years, I’ve noticed. It seems like just about every mall has one now, even the smaller ones. Where did they all come from? These places are sprouting up like tanning places did in the ’80s and ’90s. The funny thing is that every time I walk by one, just about everyone who works there is just sitting around. How do they stay in business? Do they charge enough for a manicure so that they come out ahead even if they only have one customer per day? And when this trend is gone, what will take its place? They already have shops that do piercing. I suppose tattoos will be the next step, given how they are steadily gaining in popularity with younger people. That’s it, I bet &045; tattooing in the malls. Tattoos for Youze, they could call it.

And what mall visit would be complete without a trip to the music store? I usually go, but rarely buy anything. It’s not that they don’t have a wide variety of musical artists &045; they do. It’s just that for the type of music I like &045; ’70s classic rock and ’80s new wave &045; they only seem to stock the two most popular titles per artist, one of those usually being a &uot;greatest hits&uot; compilation. I have yet to find a CD featuring Lou Reed’s &uot;New Sensations&uot; or &uot;The Great Defender&uot; in a music store. On the other hand, if I wanted 20 copies of &uot;Greatest Hits of the Steve Miller Band,&uot; I’d be in good shape.

You know what they should have at the malls, for people who don’t like to shop but couldn’t get out of the trip? A place to take a nap. All they’d need is a room full of cots and someone to run it. You’d go in there, pay for a certain block of time, and they’d come and wake you up when the time expired. This would be especially appropriate next to a restaurant like The Olive Garden or Old Country Buffet. But then their customers would miss out on some pretty funny stuff. Like they say, &uot;you snooze, you lose.&uot;

Dustin Petersen is an Albert Lea resident. His column appears Mondays.