People Imagine All The Ways They Could Make American Malls Cool Again

Malls are a nostalgic part of almost anybody who was alive before the 20th century. When we were in middle school, malls were absolutely unstoppable: you could do anything, at any time, with anybody when you went to a mall. Friday nights were spent browsing Hot Topic for the best new stuff to wear to the movies.

But nowadays the American malls stand silent, a sad tribute to what teenage culture in the country once was, knowing that there is not likely to be a way for malls to ever return to their former glory again.

But some of these people had ideas.

Redditor u/GrymmTravel asked:

"What will it take to make malls in America cool again?"

Here were some of those answers.


"I live in Los Angeles and see all those shops (except pretzel stands) as stand-alones. Our malls are getting more creative, like the Westfield near me has a Din-Tai-Fung restaurant, a fancy steakhouse, a Mexican restaurant, and a Dave and Busters in the same mall."

"They also have shops that sell anime related stuff and a shop that sells Asian snacks. They also have all the standard mall businesses as well, so they're always busy"-Upnorth4

Now We Can Just Shop Online

"Make them gathering places for activities and events that can't be done online. Small concerts, community theater, escape room, bowling, video game hall, indoor climbing, social clubs, classrooms for independent teachers, etc"

"I would also love it if there was a place at the mall that would do personalized sizings. Like, I would pay $10 for a guy to tell me the exact dimensions I should look for when I purchase clothes online."-nowhereman136

Honestly Already The Point Of Malls

"The focus would have to shift away from selling products and make that a byproduct of the experience. What I mean is malls originally became popular because people love to shop and really love to window shop, so having all these choices of places to shop in one location turned them into a social event."

"So aside from shopping, people would hang out there. But the original reason they went there was to stop, window or otherwise."

"They would need to come up with other reasons for people to want to go there besides shopping. Make them social gatherings."

"I would personally put focus on the court yards with various attractions. I would start with two long mini-golf courses that run the length of the mall."

"Instead of compacting them in locations like we have now, just put them in a row so you start at one end of the mall and work your way to the other end."

"Depending on the size of the mall, you could put three of them side by side. Instead of having one large food court, have a few smaller ones."

"That would encourage people to move around through the mall. Things like that would force people to look at the stores throughout the mall. Hopefully attracting them back once the entertainment is done."

"Someone sees a store they think looks interesting and they want to go check it out when the game is over. Sprinkle in other attraction locations like we have now, just enhance them."

"I would also remove anchor stores and replace them with other entertainment locations. Make one augmented reality, one a bowling alley, one a trampoline park, and one an ice or roller rink."

"You would basically turn the mall into an entertainment complex with stores. People would go there for the experience and the entertainment and that high foot traffic would, in theory, drive people into the stores to spend money."-sebrebc

What we remember about the mall isn't necessarily the actual shopping itself, but all the hanging around with friends that we did in the meanwhile.

Christmas Capitalism

"I'm gonna sound insane but I enjoy going in department stores around Christmas time. Yeah people being in your way can suck but I like the Christmas displays and hearing the garbage pop covers of classic Christmas songs."

"And this is coming from someone who worked retail in college."

"I think it just reminds me of going to places like JC Penney and Sears with my parents when I was kid and getting excited about Christmas."-Thx4TheBoobs

More -Experiences-

"That's a great question! I love malls, grew up with 'em in the '80s, and I want to see them flourish again. My own ideas include:"

"Transfer ownership from the capital investment companies that own most malls to community non-profits that take a more local approach."

"Reposition malls as social gathering places for eating, concerts, festivals, and so forth."

"Add variety to the stores within malls. If it's all clothing shops, and you don't care about fashion, then you'll not be likely to go to a mall. But if there are lots of different kinds of stores, then more of the public has a reason to visit."

"Figure out what today's teens think is cool and pander to them a little bit, while also throwing a nod to their Millennial parents and their interests."

"A lot of the burden rests not on malls but on businesses themselves, who, in the age of e-commerce, need to reinvent themselves."

"I can imagine businesses finding some success by, for example, hosting Twitch viewing parties and selling merch from people's favorite streamers."

"But I don't know if that would be a viable business model, or just a short-term gimmick. I do think society needs more gathering places for people to come together...and malls are well-positioned to provide the space for it!"-Emu_on_the_Loose

Suburbia Is Out Of Style

"You'd have to redo the concept entirely. I picture it as creating a sort of mix-use space and mini-downtown in suburbia sort of atmosphere that a lot of outdoor malls have been doing."

"I think you would do that with low-cost condos that use on-site attractions as amenities. You'd have space to create a pool/gym area that would be part of a larger sports complex."

"Indoor fields aren't common in my area, and I think adding more could entice a lot of people. Even better if you have a 24/7 gym and fitness center with a pool. I'd also split up malls and create some green spaces with breezeways for when it rains."

"With your built in clientele you could attract a couple corner stores, some retail shops, restaurants and bars. I'd ditch the old food court and make room for smaller restaurants, focused on trying to get fast casual dining that's found in downtown areas more."

"You could almost certainly attract the right people with a remodel and new concept of what a mall is."-AltUniverse_1

Once Again Doing New Things

"I was going to say the opposite. The mall around me are becoming like, fun things to do at the mall, mall. One mall near me just took over an old two story Sears and made it half bowing alley and half arcade with a decent restaurant."

"Another mall near me is mostly those types of shops. The roller skating rink, the indoor go karts, the axe throwing place, also a bowling alley with a bar, and the movies with a mini arcade."

"The malls around me are becoming for entertainment purposes instead of shopping purposes."--AIRDRUMMER-

In a world where we can already get most of our shopping done online, malls are having to rethink.

Why Didnt We Evolve In 20 Years

"A complaint I have hears from business owners closing down their shops that were is malls is the rent is too high compared to the foot traffic and sales."

"As I understand malls often charge rent of a flat fee plus a percentage of sales. Which at first doesn't sound so bad. Sales are down but you pay less rent. BUT, there is also a minimum rent amount regardless sales. So your rent is high during good and bad sales months."

"The mall is supposed to get a guaranteed minimum income out of this, which I understand. The owner of the mall probably took out debt to build it or buy it, so they have payments to make."

"Back when malls actually got large amounts of foot traffic these rents were justified. But now malls aren't seeing that foot traffic, and stores are pulling out. And the malls really haven't reevaluated their sales model in the last 20+ years."

"So malls really need to reevaluate how they make money and how their leases are structured."

"Someone else suggested using the space for more community events or as convention centers. I think those are great ideas."

"With new leasing models and converting big open stores, like defunct Sears or Herbergers into convention spaces malls could be revitalized. Vendors shit towards things people would want to buy during a convention and everyone makes money."-TorturedChaos


"I don't think malls in their current state are salvageable. Some idea for something mall like:"

  1. "Mixed use - live eat shop type areas. They're already popping up all over the place. Just adjust one of them to have a central area for the 'mall section.'"
  2. "Focus on local - make the rent low enough where local businesses can set up shop. Then you have a selling point beyond hey look the same 10 dying chains like every mall currently has."
  3. "Make it an event hub - concerts in the park area, have some bars and restaurants around them, host in person events like board game nights, or trivia or what have you."
  4. "Stop trying to compete with online or Amazon. Focus on the experience and offer a sense of community instead."-randomacct7679

Really To Get More People On Board

"Turn them into an independently separated amusement park."

"Instead did just retail stores like some monument to capitalism malls could be arcades, mini putt, air soft course, laser gun course, axe throwing, restaurants, bars, clubs, pubs, coffee shops, marijuana shops, various workshops, Internet cafe, theater, library, etc. So not just places where you go to buy things but places you go to do things for entertainment."-IrrelevantPuppy

It's true that the malls of the 80s and 90s are probably dead for today's generation. And that's okay! The idea of the mall might be dead, but it fulfilled a very specific need we all have as humans.

Those people will be able to fulfill that need as well.

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