About the Mall...
I'm Not a Good One to Ask
I've never liked to shop. When I consider why, there are really a few big reasons. I don't like to look for things. Rummaging through racks and shelves to find "the right" whatever gets on my nerves. Bingo and scavenger hunts frustrate me as well. I'm not a fan of trying things on, and I think a lot is way overpriced. Finding the "right" whatever at a price I'm willing to pay is not my idea of a good time. Thank goodness for online shopping. I live far from malls and shopping facilities other than Walmart. I can sit down, type in a few words and the computer sorts much of the clutter away. That being said, I still have some mall experience.
My mall experiences revolve around going to movies in my youth and Christmas shopping before online shopping was invented. In the tween to early teen years I'd get dropped off at the mall to see a movie with friends. We'd get a snack at the food court, see a movie, mill around a while, and get picked up by our parents. Occasionally you would have a date, which looked just like the aforementioned trip, but with some awkward hand holding and such thrown in the mix. I lived in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, so later teen years came with drivers' license, more parental permissions, and more options. The mall and a movie combo wasn't gone, but it played a smaller role in the social scene. The social scene at the mall usually didn't involve shopping for my friends and me. As I think about it, the mall we went to for movies didn't have many of the larger chain stores. The clientele was set. Candy stores, music stores, novelty shops, and other nickle and dime shops filled the place. It was a playground for older kids. Where I live now, Walmart is the closest "playground" for younger teens to hang out. They don't have the benefit of a movie theater, though. They just stand around and play video game displays and watch model televisions.
mALL Around the World
If you have ever watched "How I Met Your Mother" you may know that the television anchor, Robin Scherbatsky, was once a pop star named Robin Sparkles. Reminiscent of Debbie Gibson, Robin's past comes back into the story line from time to time. If you didn't know that she was Canadian, a few details in dialect and the mention of Brian Mulroney, Prime Minister of Canada from 1984-93, would clue you in. This video sums up the American teen's mall experience of the 80's. It also indicates that Candians were also right there with us...Robin Sparkles Video.
This description of the mall scene in the Philippines sounds the same in some ways, but quite different in others. Imagine walking through a Catholic Mass to buy your sneakers! Be sure to look all the way to the bottom of the page where a critic points out another link on the topic. It is interesting that a country with less disposable income than the United States has larger malls. It is notable that as income sent to families from overseas slows down, mall spending does as well. Could the escapism that the mall entertainment services provides be the motivator?
Information from India is also interesting. Although this information is older, we can see how lack of land availability makes mall construction an interesting investment opportunity. Blame for high rent prices for retailers in the mall seems to roll from retailers to mall owners and back again.
The point of this little trip around the world is to show that the work a mall performs for a culture depends on the culture. In America, we are infatuated with entertainment and commercialism. Our malls cater to that. In the largely Catholic and lower socio-economic Philippines, Mass and escapism are provided. An overcrowded India allows the opportunity to make as much money off of one piece of land as possible. But, just like we are learning in America, trying to get too much from too little in a dangerous long-term plan.
Get it NOW!
Back to malls in America. Online shopping has made purchasing items convenient, if you can be patient. Finding great deals can be just a click away, if you can squelch the urge to have "it" now. Malls not only allow shoppers to walk off with their new item at the exact moment of purchase, they also allow shoppers to see all of the other stuff they don't have yet. As a task oriented shopper, I try to walk in, get what I need, and get out. Browsing is not fun for me. I'm not going to look at things I don't need and I didn't want before I walked in. Of course, stores go through great lengths to confound shoppers like me. Items are moved or put at the furthest corners of a store so that I have to walk around and see everything that I don't already have. That's fine though, I'm stubborn. I jump through the hoops, get my stuff, and get out. If it's too much of a bother, I order it online and wait until it arrives.
Shopping and Math
Recognizing how much students like to acquire new items with the limited resources they are given allows me to use money in math. I used to bring in restaurant menus and store ads. Students would have X number of imaginary dollars to spend. Sometimes they had to buy a given number of items and they were permitted to keep the change. Other times they had to give the change back. We'd discuss the different techniques used for each scenario. Unit cost, adding and subtracting decimals, and the like were important then. Realizing that 3 shirts for a given price wasn't always a better deal than just buying 1 was a revelation. Math class was the place where we examined store item placement, not-so-good deals, and the danger of too many disposable products. (What do you have when you have used them all?)