Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Life in a Mall

This book review from Knowledge@Wharton caught my eye. Lots of interesting detail on why the malls are, the way they are.

In his new book, Call of the Mall, Paco Underhill explains that the reason the rest rooms in America's shopping malls are typically located at the end of a long, gloomy corridor : the suburban equivalent of a city alley : is because malls are built by real estate developers, not merchants.

Real estate developers, says Underhill, so resent having to dedicate any space to a non-revenue producing amenity, that they tuck it out of the way. If you are looking for a rest room at almost any mall in the U.S., Underhill advises, look for an uninviting, dimly-lit hallway. You're there. ....

Underhill explains why the stores closest to mall entrances tend to be occupied by hair salons or banks, not shops catering to impulse buyers: "When we enter any building we need a series of steps just to make the adjustment between out there and in here," he writes. "We need time to allow our eyes to adjust. We are not ready to make any buying decisions. If there is a sign close to the door, you won't read it."

Thus the best locations are further in the mall. And since the mall owner charges tenants a flat rent based on space plus a percentage of sales, it is in the mall's own interest to have the hottest stores in prime locations, says Underhill.

He says every mall has a food court because they prolong a shopper's stay. The food court is usually noisy and the offerings not exactly gourmet. But, he asks, "is there another place where the quasi-foodstuffs of Mexico, China, Italy, Thailand, Greece, Japan and South Philadelphia come together like this?"....