MOA or MIA?

Aaron Leth

I really, really respect the Mall of America. After all, Minnesota gets to boast it has the biggest mall in the entire country, and even greater, down the street was the first “shopping mall” EVER, better known now as Southdale Center. Needless to say, we’ve got cred when it comes to retail revolution.

I’ve mentioned haps with the MOA’s ownership and plans in the past, what with the Versace rumors and the arrival of Burberry. As the new year dawned, though, the mall gave us even bigger news to discuss: nine all-new stores. These newbies can be summed up in one word: TRAGIC! And here’s why.

Let’s take for example store number one, Janie & Jack. You might as well call it Jack and Jill, really, because then passers-by would know to steer clear and head into the Nickelodeon Park instead – sure to be tons more fun, with that giant floating Dora the Explorer and whatnot.

Then there’s Gilly Hicks, the trendy underwear outlet spawned by the evil Abercrombie & Fitch, or as I like to call it, where 12-year-olds are bound to buy their next Halloween costumes, only to look like they’re working the main stage at the Palms in Las Vegas. It doesn’t help that they stuck this store in a gutted-out Hollister Co., but don’t fear, the designers kept the beach hut exterior Ö really? For an underwear store? Just sayin’ Ö.

Supposedly inspired by the Greenwich Village ‘hood of NYC, Ruehl No. 925 is another Abercrombie & Fitch sister store. One look around its Web site, though, says more Greenwich, Conn., rather than NYC. And to be honest, there’s nothing novel about this concept. Zero difference can be noticed from the ACTUAL Abercrombie & Fitch stores: You’ll still come out half-deaf, smelling like a baby prostitute, which shouldn’t be anything to get excited about. See for yourself at ruehl.com.

You’d think another Best Buy would be amazing, right? All that electronic style vamping up MOA Ö er something. But there’s one right down I-494, not including the Best Buy HQ another mile past the first one. Maybe that’s why Best Buy is to the Twin Cities as Starbucks is to Seattle: one on (literally) every corner. I think the same can be said about the Lacoste store and Levi’s store. In my opinion, doesn’t MOA have enough stores already that carry those two brands? It’s kind of like the Puma store. Necessary? Not quite.

I think the last three stores have a chance, kind of like LiLo this year: Pandora, a jewelry shop; Papyrus, a cards and stationery mecca; and Geox, a shoe store. I believe the quality and uniqueness of these venues will carry them much further into MOA’s future than any of the others mentioned.

I firmly believe a person can’t call something a problem without offering a solution. So does MOA have a problem? Yes. Will my rhetoric on the situation enact any huge change? Probably not, but in my opinion the solution lies in how much more unique and groundbreaking a store can be from its surroundings, and how that betters its survival chances. For MOA, taking the high-end route – e.g. Burberry, Versace, etc. – is a much better plan than stuffing the place with trinket sellers and, ahem, underwear boutiques. For reals, people, we all saw what happened when Pink inundated Victoria’s Secret stores. Perhaps Vickie should’ve been warned that her line of Pink onesies was going to make it all the way across the country, tragically landing right in the heart of our campus on a Sunday afternoon. Doubtful she intended for this, but for me it was the greatest little hug from Jesus since my Gucci bag.

Happy spring break! And please, no Gilly Hicks on the beach.

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