With so much competition for consumersdollars, vendors need to make themselves stand out. Entertaining mallsthose with games, rides, shows, and other attractionshave left smaller, nonentertaining ones in the dust. Retail prognosticators estimate that during the next decade somewhere on the order of eighty-six-hundred malls, more than a billion square feet of leasable space, will go bankrupt or be adapted for another use.
Mall developers worry that the time spent shopping will continue to wane, and have been forced to think of different ways to attract people, pouring billions of dollars into attractions to set themselves apart from the thousands of competing shopping centers. As a result, there are two types of new malls that have popped up around the country in the past three decades: the pseudoluxe fashion center and the mega mall. The pseudo-luxe fashion center caters to the bourgeois adult. It has a puffed-up namelike the Arboretum at Great Hills, Towne West Square, or The Shops at Willow Bendthat avoids the use of the word mall, which would conceivably suggest a lack of sophistication.
Common areas are filled with mahogany coffee tables, burgundy rugs, and dark leather couches, the type of decor you might expect at a posh private club. Even the tenants are different, usually described in publicity material as fine shops or better stores. In addition to the mall mainstays like the Gap and Banana Republic, there are stores like Gucci, Burberry, and Prada, anchored by swankier department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. The pseudo-luxe fashion center has a few better restaurants and caf©s scattered throughout, but rarely a formal food court (the scent of Panda Express wafting in front of the Louis Vuitton store would surely turn off some customers).
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