Ever notice this about malls?

I’m sort of fascinated with the whole indoor mall business model. Many of the stores, like Victoria’s Secret, The Limited, and Bath and Body Works are the same company. And the kiosks with really expensive crap that operate out in the aisles of the mall are often owned by stores that are in the mall.

On Sunday I took my daughter shopping, she likes Aeropostale shirts. I don’t see the appeal, but they’re reasonably cheap and not bad looking. She then wanted to see what was in Abercrombie and Fitch. Boy that’s a dark loud place with lots of skin. But anyway, I swear they had the same darn shirts as Aeropostale, but with the A&F logo on them, for like $30 more. I thought I’d look them up and find they were the same company, but apparently they are competitors. I still wonder if they get their shirts from the same supplier.

Anyway when you’re a dude shopping for clothes in the mall you’ve gotta keep your mind busy with something. :wink:

Last time I was in a mall, I noticed that there were 16 cell phone stores and kiosks. I counted. There were several companies that had multiple outlets in the same mall. Different franchisees, I assume. There can’t be THAT many people needing to buy a phone every day. Just goes to show what a huge profit margin there is on those things that they can split up the market that many ways and still be successful.

And is that same company the same one that makes J. Crew outfits, too? Growing up in Prep Town, I tried to avoid that, but they all looked pretty much the same to me.

The difference between Aero and A&F becomes noticeable with age. After 6 months to a year, the Aero shirts I would buy in high school would be stretched out and not fit properly. In contrast, I still have a couple of A&F shirts that are in good condition, just too small (because of me, not the shirt!). It’s been about 8 years since I’ve bought those shirts.

It was 12 in an increasingly downscale mall near me. Kind of like a third world marketplace, too, where they’d call out to passing shoppers. At the equally distant upscale mall, there’s far fewer cell phone kiosks, and no Avenida de Juarez-style hawking.

Whenever I go to a mall and I see a Spencer’s, I think “they’re still around?” I get the sense that I’m in some sort of time warp, and that I’ll soon pass a Merry Go Round, Kinney Shoes, Coda or Chess King.

EVERY lifestyle center I’ve ever been to plays smooth jazz as background music. EVERY SINGLE ONE. When they have live concerts during the summer, it’s always smooth jazz musicians.

There is a really fascinating book (and I couldn’t tell you the title) about malls and the various tactics- from interior design to branding- that they use to get you to buy stuff. It was completely fascinating.

Are you thinking of Call of the Mall by Paco Underhill? He’s an environmental psychologist who consults with businesses, and a very engaging writer.

There’s an upscale mall near where I work (it’s so upscale they refuse to cal it a “mall” – it’s a “collection”.) They have people hawking their wares aggressively from the kiosks and pushcarts just like the downscale malls uyou describe. And hey have a Spencers. Why not – no other store has taken over their function.

You’re only just now noticing this?

You can ask someone, "Why do you wear Abercombie? And she’ll say, “Because it’s better.”

When you ask, “Why is it better?” She’ll say, “Because it’s Abercombie.”

They’re all made in the same sweatshops.

Shopping malls depress me.

I used to “hang out” in malls a little, but it was mostly the bookstores, Spencers, and Sbarros. I never shopped for clothes in malls. So yeah, I’m just now noticing it!

Probably. When I was in China, I saw two identical shirts in an outlet store with different brand labels. My friend even took a photo of it.

Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works sold the Limited two years ago. (Limited Brands, Inc. doesn’t include the Limited. Huh??!?!) But Limited Brands used to own Abercrombie. Just my weird, random observation.
I don’t shop at any of them, so I don’t know the differences, although I do have a few pairs of Limited and Express (also used to be a part of LBI) jeans that I got at an employee-only sale. I ended up paying about fifty cents apiece for them, and they still look brand new after three years. I’m impressed!

There is a huge indoor/outdoor mall near me that was on the leading edge of mall redevelopment of the last ten years. It has huge ceilings, waterfalls, a big sandpit for kids (skating rink in winter), a bus that takes shoppers around to various parts, etc. It was built in 2000 and was a huge deal when it opened.

Only eight years later, the city that it’s in is having to put up $20M for a “redevelopment” as it is losing shoppers to other new malls and has lost at least one of it’s anchor tenants. I’m wondering if fancy malls are just a developers scam like new baseball/football stadiums, which really don’t do anything for the community on a long term basis.* Are there any studies about this?

  • There have been a lot of studies on stadiums and their lack of impact on cities economic health, although where I am, Coors Field did spark a major redevelopment of an old warehouse district into a vibrant retail/business/housing center. It is the exception to the rule.

No, its more likely that they’re owned by the same one or two folks, who operate half a dozen kiosks to increase views and impulse sales no matter which exit you’re leaving by.

I used to work as one of those annoying perfume sprayers in the mall, and the person who wrote my paycheck could send me to any number of stores or kiosks as she wished. Sometimes I’d have to bring stock from one to another as one ran low.

One thing I’ve noticed about malls lately is that they are depressing as hell. The ones around here are dying. The big, nice, popular mall from the 80s (Metro Center) is dead because you can’t leave your car in the parking lot without it getting smash-and-grabbed. The big, nice, popular mall from the the 90s (Paradise Valley Mall) has one foot in the grave for reasons unknown (though I expect it’s because anything that can be had in a mall can be had somewhere else cheaper) - last time I went in there I kept getting creepy feelings because I could look 360º in this huge mall and not see another person. I guess it’s only a matter of a few more years and another new mall for the big, nice, popular mall of the 2000s (Desert Ridge) to die.

I find indoor mega malls weird now. I used to go to the mall all the time until I moved to NYC (which often feels like a giant, overcrowded outdoor mall) so I’m almost never in a regular mall anymore.

Regarding the retail clothing business model. Each store is branded to appeal to a particular “lifestyle”. The Gap owns several brands. Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic in accending order of price and “fanciness”. Each store is designed to appeal to a different market segment. If you are a working middleclass mom, you’d buy affordable clothes for the kids at Old Navy (or ON in the idiotic initialization our culture embraces). If you are a young, hip, but still frugal high school or college student, you would shop at The Gap. A more affluent 20 something in his first job, Banana Republic.

A banker or lawyer making $150 K a year? None of the above. You’re going to Ralph Lauren, Thomas Pink or Brooks Brothers. And I’m sure there’s even more expensive crap that I don’t even know about because they actively avoid marketing to people of my income bracket. Like wherever Donald Trump buys $1000 gold ties.

A&F used to be more like a preppy high end catalogue company like L L Bean or J Crew back in the 90s but has more or less been rebranded to appeal to “gay men and girls with sunkissed skin and medium sized breasts who get together at dawn to play topless flag football”. Before they spun them off, A&F used to be part of Limited Brands which also included Structure and Express. Basically “gayer” and more metrosexual versions of their Gap equivalent.

Speaking of J Crew, I basically view them as a cheap Brooks Brothers knockoff lifestyle retailer. In college (early 90s), people would describe things as “J Crew” meaning overly preppy and pretentious (which was ironic since most of the people who used the term were pretty J Crew themselves). Pretty much the only place you could get their clothing was through the catalogues that magically appeared in every college students mailbox three times a month. So pretty much the only people you ever saw dressed in barn jackets, peacoats, wool rollneck sweaters, henley T shirts and other crazy crap with weird names and stories attached to them were on upscale college campuses.

I think that may be because of me. I lived in Mesa near Fiesta Mall between 94 and 2000, during which time Fiesta started tanking hardcore. I moved to the MetroCenter area in 2000, right before it started to rot. I moved between Paradise Valley and Desert Ridge in 2004, right before PV started slipping. Now I see there are a couple empty slots in DR, too.

I think my proximity is toxic to malls.

In addition to the cell phone kiosks, most of the malls around here have an abundance of jewelry and athletic shoe stores. Those must be other high margin businesses, since in one case, their are literally 3 jewelry stores kitty-corner to each other.

Same here.

Those cell phone accessory stores are selling $5 cases for $20!

Here’s a weird thing I’ve noticed about malls – bookstores are disappearing from them.
it used to be that you’d have at least one, maybe two, sometimes as many as three bookstores in an enclosed mall. The small one near my parents house, until 15 or so years ago, had one or two. Now there are zero inside the mall. There’s a Barnes and Noble outside the mall, though.

Similarly up here in Massachusetts. The tony upscale mall I describe above (the “Collection”) has NO bookstores in the mall. And none outside, either. The nearest one is half a mile down the road. Three huge malls in the North Shore area have no bookstores. Two have bookstores nearby, but not really close.
I was excited when the (non-enclosed) mall near my hometown finally acquired a bookstore, for the first time in its 50 year history. bu after being open less than ten years, it closed a year ago.