CALL OF THE MALL PACO UNDERHILL PDF

I spend a lot of time in malls. Too much, I think. It will never happen. You are riding with a tall, bald, stuttering research wonk on the cusp of his fifty-third year. I am called a retail anthropologist, which makes me uncomfortable, especially around my colleagues still in academia who have many more degrees than I do. I watch how they move through stores and other commercial environments - restaurants, banks, fast-food joints, movie theaters, car dealerships, the post office, concert halls.

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Shelves: goods-services , business-and-economics Paco Underhill wants to take a little walk with you through the local mall, to see it with his eyes- the eyes of a "retail anthropologist" and marketing strategist who scrutinizes malls as the environments they were built to be: shopping arenas. Born amid the automobile-guided infrastructure buildout of the s, shopping malls have been the crown jewel of American consumerism, dedicated spaces of recreational consumption of goods.

The walk, which begins in the parking lot and travels through Paco Underhill wants to take a little walk with you through the local mall, to see it with his eyes- the eyes of a "retail anthropologist" and marketing strategist who scrutinizes malls as the environments they were built to be: shopping arenas. Although Underbill spends most of his working life walking around malls, his feelings regarding them are mixed. He seems to enjoy them -- the long stretches of flat marble or tile, air-conditioned walks down channels filled with eye-catching displays and even more eye-catching people -- but his job requires being both appreciative and critical.

Music stores, for instance, have gone downhill since records gave way to CDs, because record sleeves could be used as eye-catching displays. CD covers are as useful for displays seen at a distance as postage stamps. Underhill is also surprised that no store has ever considered using the mall restrooms as a display area for its own equipment but considering how much volume mall toilets get, would any retailer want to chance his toilet being associated with badly-maintained restrooms?

Malls are in fact very artificial environments, little island awash in a sea of pavements. A lot of their foot traffic is from teenagers who are there because they have nothing else to do; suburban teens have no place outside of home and school to go to. Underhill makes the point repeatedly that malls are limited by their environment.

He points out, for instance, that the spaces near entrances and exits are consigned as low rent. One would think otherwise considering they receive greater traffic than the interior of the mall, but Underhill comments that as people are entering a store, they need space to adjust, to adapt to their new environment. As they are making the transition, their mind ignores the first few stores they pass.

He also elaborates on some of the strategies that the real estate giants who own the malls employ when deciding who rents what space; different stores have different markets, and there are dynamics to be taken into consideration.

Shopping malls are a mixed bag, an experiment in retailing that may change as time passes, or may fail entirely. Demographics are changing, writes Underbill, as is technology; online stores are giving brick-and-mortar or in suburban cases, plywood and concrete an increasingly hard time, and this work was penned ten years ago, before Amazon Prime and similar services.

For the ordinary person on the street -- or in the aisles -- The Call of the Mall is an entertaining look into the workings of places we might spend a lot of our time in. Then it was a satisfying read too. The most memorable item: Perfume counters are located in most department stores in their front and center location because they were used to block out the horse smell from the streets way back when.

Feb 25, Nathan Cloutman rated it it was ok Relatively well written and does have some interesting insights regarding the retail industry, but some of the conversations throughout the book are rather dull and dare I say pointless. Additionally, the sexism in some chapters was unsettling.

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