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The American Shopping Mall

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People love to shop and they love to shop conveniently. Malls with many retail stores have existed for centuries. While Agoras were popular in ancient Greece, many different styles of malls have developed over the centuries. Malls have adapted to the needs of people. Urban malls are vertical while suburban malls with more space to build are found outside big cities. Strip malls can be found in almost any city while outlet malls attract tourists near major highway. Whatever one needs to purchase, they can usually find anything they need close to home.  Malls Near Me attempts to make sense of the creation known as the shopping mall.

Regional Malls

Regional malls are wide and deep with many types of retail stores but mostly apparel. Usually between 400,000 and 800,000 square feet, regional malls are enclosed, wide and have levels. Stores are connected by a common walkway and general parking surrounds the building. Regional malls are anchored by two or more larger discount or department stores and often contain a food court with many choices of fast food. Regional malls are typically attract tourists so they often provide information about local restaurants, lodging and events going on in the area.

Super Regional Malls

Super malls are bigger than regional malls and are usually located within 25 miles of a big city. Like regional malls, super regionals malls have anchor stores but at least 3 and leasable retail space connected by a common walkway with surrounding parking. Super malls are larger than 800,000 square feet and have more levels than regional malls. They often have more eating options as well. They dominate the shopping for the region and cater to visitors, so the stores offer more variety and a greater selection of retail products than a smaller regional mall.

Vertical Malls

In densely populated big cities there is not much space for many retail stores to be housed in one main building. Property is more expensive than in suburban areas, so city malls are built vertically, sometimes within skyscrapers. In the 1960s companies began building malls within big cities. Mafco Company, a division of Marshall Field, built the Water Tower Place in Chicago, Illinois in 1975. The mall is located on the first 8 levels of the Water Tower Place building. One hundred retail shops encircle a large glass atrium that fronts Michigan Avenue on the “Magnificent Mile” in the heart of Chicago. The mall also incudes restaurants and live theater. Glass elevators and escalators carry shoppers to higher levels. Above the 8 mall levels rises a skyscraper with offices and living space. Today, Water Tower Place is joined at the sizes with more retail space with the Shops at North Bridge and the Avenue Atrium.

Strip Malls

Strip malls have existed in suburban areas for many decades. They tend to go in and out of style. Strip malls are self-contained open area blocks of storefronts with a sidewalk connecting them. They often are connected by one or more anchor stores, usually a big box store and a supermarket. The stores cater to the people who live in the area. They are fronted by a busy street and have a large parking lot in the front of the stores. It was once popular to turn strip malls into enclosed malls to keep them popular in all types of weather. When enclosed malls have gone out of favor, strip malls have often cropped up in their places making them “arcades”, “mini-malls” or “shopping plazas”.

Dead Malls

Enclosed malls sometimes go out of favor with local shoppers. Although they were once loved for their comfort providing temperature control, escalators and entertainment, socio-economic decline in the area, the rise of super regional malls and the return to outdoor shopping plazas have left some enclosed malls abandoned. Sometimes national or international chains or big box stores have replaced them or they have been reconfigured into open are malls.

Outlet Malls

Outlet Malls or Centers are often located in rural areas near major highways. They attract tourists because the buildings are owned by the manufacturers and they offer merchandise at low prices. Often the merchandise is irregular or discontinued. These malls are in a strip configuration or in a “village cluster”. In 1936, Harold Alfred opened the first outlet store, Dexter Shoe Company, In 1974, the first multi-store outlet was built by Vanity Fair in Reading, Pennsylvania. In 1979, Belz Enterprise built the first enclosed outlet mall in Lakeland, Tennessee. Outlet malls remain popular tourist destinations for retail bargains. Large manufactures sell products at reduced prices at the malls or directly to customers online.

As bigger malls become popular and are replaced with strip malls, many suburban enclosed malls are no longer functioning. Once a big attraction because enclosed malls could offer comfort while shopping with controlled temperature, escalators and entertainment.

February 16, 2017 |

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