The Mall Welcomes You All
Have you ever made a trip to the mall for other reasons than shopping? The shopping mall will welcome your visit, even if you plan on not making a purchase. According to Richard Francaviglia “Sociologist have long known that people visit shopping centers for far more than commercial reasons” (448).
Malls today have evolved to offer many different types of goods and services for you to purchase. The mall offers the latest in all the new fashions. They have the all the new electronic gadgets like televisions, music players and cell phones. You can get your hair cut, ears pierced, or nails done. You can even get your taxes done while you shop or go to lunch. All of these services are built around commercial business. Almost 200 million of us spend about 1.8 trillion dollars every month at the mall. That’s half of our consumer goods and why the mall was built, right? Many people see other reasons to visit the mall than just buying products.
Having a controlled and safe environment helps the mall appeal to people for other reasons than shopping. Last year I visited a few malls on Halloween. I was shocked to see how many families brought children to the mall for trick or treating. I have also seen elderly people meet friends at the mall and enjoy nothing more than a walk through the mall together to enjoy friendship and exercise. What is the chance that they may stop for a coffee and newspaper or a drink after they walk through the mall?
Teenagers also seem to be attracted to the mall. For them it’s not about exercise, but being able to socialize with friends, or check out the latest fashion trends with other teenage groups. Most teens may not be able to make purchases immediately, but they like to browse the stores. Then they go home and mention to their parents about new style sneakers or clothing they noticed all the other kids have.
Some people also feel the mall is a sacred place. Jon Pahl stated that pilgrims go to malls to hang out, to exercise, to pray, even get married (463). At the Mall of America, six thousand people attended a sermon titled “The Unknown God of the Mall”. Six months later ninety-two couples were married at the mall on Valentine’s Day. I wonder if they purchased a dress, suit or flowers at the mall for these events.
Like most churches or places of worship, the mall can’t offer these services for free and survive. The church may pass around a basket to ask for donations during its service and the mall invites you to purchase something while you are there. Jon Pahl stated that 40 percent of visitors to the mall do not intend to purchase anything but only 10 percent get out without lighter purses or wallets (464). So for whatever your reason for your trip to the mall, this is why they will welcome you. Even if you don’t plan to make a purchase, chances are you will.