Why do all malls always smell the same?

Why do all malls always smell the same?
Over the decades and all around the US, every mall I’ve been in smells the same.

How does that work?

Or am I the only one who thinks this?

WAG: most shopping malls have the same stores, or the same types of stores, so the olfactory melange of Mrs. Field’s, Yankee Candle, Bath & Body Works, the entire Food Court, not to mention the massive amounts of floor wax, cleaner, that “escalator smell,” etc., is probably going to smell similarly in any given mall.


The closest surviving mall to me has no noticeable scent, just individual from store to store.

I have no other malls close or nice enough to compare.

The mall I go to most frequently has a Mrs. Field’s on the bottom level. It smells of warm chocolate chip cookies.

Other than that, I haven’t noticed any particular mall smell.

My college girlfriend was an assistant manager at a Mrs. Field’s in a shopping mall. She told me that part of the store design was a blower which vented the air from the kitchen into the pedestrian area in front of the store, as the cookie scent was found to be a powerful lure. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if other shopping-mall mainstays which have strong olfactory components do much the same.

I have always wondered the same thing about dentists’ offices.

The only place I notice a universal scent is in nursing homes.

Out of order posts can sometimes be amusing. I am not sure what olfactory component a dentist would be blowing into the mall though.

Indeed, according to a friend who negotiates such things, Cinnabon makes part of their mall leases that they get to exhaust warm yummy smells near their store.

For me, it’s boarding a transatlantic flight. Something about the air just as you step on from the loading gate (and right as you are greeted by a chirpy flight attendant) always smells the same to me.

Since I doubt that there have been scientific studies of this, let’s move this to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

I can’t say I’ve ever noticed a particular smell about malls other than those of the closest shops. Perhaps it is the mixture of many kinds of smells from different kinds of stores (fabric, leather, plastic, perfume, Cinnabons) that the OP considers distinctive.

Supermarkets also all have the same smell. It’s like they’re trying way too hard to smell “fresh.” They must have canned supplies of artificial industrial “freshness” that they strategically release.

I’ve not noticed that malls even have the same characteristic smell throughout. The Kay’s Jeweler smells different to the Cinnabon, which in turn smells different to the Yankee Candle store.

Bed, Bath and Beyond stores, otoh, always smell the same throughout, a strong essence of juniper. Every time I go into one I want to look around and see who’s offering free samples of gin…

I’ll try and tie this thread to the Conspiracy Theory thread.

They smell the same because of the chemical the GOVERNMENT puts in the air so we’ll buy more stuff!

I know exactly what the OP is talking about, though I’m not sure what the answer is. So strong is the smell and my association with malls in my childhood that I can’t be in them very long lest I start getting verklempt. Department stores in particular really get to me but the whole mall in general has a very distinct smell. I think DCnDC is probably on the right track, though when I try to imagine it in my mind’s nose, it’s not specifically sweets or candle scent or anything I can identify. It’s just . . .Eau de Centre Commercial

Well, not Asian supermarkets.

The most identifiable smell at our mall is the sickly-sweet reek of Abercrombie and Fitch. I call it “Eau de D-Bag.” :stuck_out_tongue:

Regarding the supermarkets: “We have dead fish! Lots of them!” is culturally a good smell. It depends where you’re from, that’s all. :slight_smile:

It’s because there’s only one Mall, with different entrances across the nation. Savvy travelers know how to enter The Mall in Poughkeepsie and exit The Mall in Seattle. But I’ve already said too much.