1. FishKettle
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    FishKettle Member

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    Tell me about your local mall/plaza/shopping complex?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by FishKettle, Apr 30, 2011.

    I'm doing a story about a group of teenagers and the main location for the story is a mall and an abandoned mall. I need help with things like: locations that may be off limits for customers, general feelings people get while being in a mall and if anyone has ever been in an empty/abandoned mall. So if you have time could you answer some of the questions below, even if it is just one of them.

    Alternatively if you've worked in area's generally off limits to the public could you share information about what can be found in these places, where they are generally found in a mall and what they are used for. If anyone even has layouts of shopping complex they could link me to, that would also help greatly.

    Also if you know of any cultural differences in layouts of malls, etc. That would help as well.

    I'm mainly looking for personal recall of this information as apposed to factually correct information.


    On to the questions:

    • Have you ever been lost in a mall/plaza/shopping complex? How old were you when this happened? And if you can remember, tell me about it?
    • Whats your greatest fear/concern when you're in a mall/plaza/shopping complex?
    • What shops do you normally ignore while you're at one of these places?
    • Whats one of the most notable features of your local mall/plaza/shopping complex? Whether this is an intentional focal point or something you yourself have personally always noticed?
    • Have you ever been in an abandoned/empty mall/plaza/shopping complex? What was it like? What state was it in?
    • What extra's does your local mall/plaza/shopping complex have? IE: outdoor area, split levels, cinema, anything else you can think of?
    • What is something you've always wondered about these places? Or what things have you found out that others generally are unaware of?
    • If you know, where would the manager's office typically be located? Who has access to this area?
    • What kind of security does your local mall/plaza/shopping complex possess? Security guards, cameras?

    Thanks for any help you may be able to provide.
     
  2. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have you ever been lost in a mall/plaza/shopping complex? How old were you when this happened? And if you can remember, tell me about it?

    I get lost in them all the time - the ones in the UK at least often have 3 or more layers of shops, all in the same layout and design, and even have repeats of shops, or, say, a WH Smiths or BHS that spans 2-3 floors so if you're just glancing around, you accidentally navigate by them thinking you're on the wrong floor. Generally if I'm in a new shopping centre I'll have to double back at least once.

    Whats your greatest fear/concern when you're in a mall/plaza/shopping complex?

    Usually getting trampled or not being able to find the toilet. :p The loos are always down massive long corridors that seem to wind around the back of the building, and all join up in one place. I swear there's only one set of loos and all the different doors to them take you on a long windy walk until you're at them. :p


    What shops do you normally ignore while you're at one of these places?

    All the high-end fancy boutiques, places that sell watches and handbags, and also stuff like the Disney Store, Teddy Bear Factory etc. However, I have gone into the LEGO store in the Churchill Square shopping centre many times. :p Mostly I look for stationery and book shops, music and video shops, and cheaper clothes stores if I have to, so you can rule out everything else.


    Whats one of the most notable features of your local mall/plaza/shopping complex?

    The Hastings shopping centre has a statue of a cricketer in the middle because it was built on a cricket ground, and his ball is lodged in the wall of one of the shops.

    Churchill Square has a really funky part at the front with lots of seats/steps/modern art to sit on, and loads of places to get take away food, so it's always crammed with shoppers sitting around eating lunch.

    The one in Southampton I went in last month had a fake wall inside it like a Victorian house, with shops underneath.

    Whether this is an intentional focal point or something you yourself have personally always noticed?

    I'd say yes to the first two, and probably not the most eye-catching thing to everyone else for the third - I just thought it was cute and that's what I remember out of all the fountains and big displays in the open spaces. :p

    Have you ever been in an abandoned/empty mall/plaza/shopping complex? What was it like? What state was it in?

    I've never seen a literally abandoned one, but I've been in one past closing, so all the shutters were down and the lights were out. It felt like a dark street because who else could have been lurking in there, and also it was kind of scary on top of that thinking we might be arrested.

    What extra's does your local mall/plaza/shopping complex have? IE: outdoor area, split levels, cinema, anything else you can think of?

    Both the Hastings and Brighton shopping centres have outside parts, and there's one in Ashford that's shaped in a big circle under a tent-like roofs and is all outside except for the shops. Hastings doesn't have split levels, but many of the big shopping centres in the middle of cities I've been in have had several levels. Not so many in England have cinemas as American ones, I think. Big commercial cinemas here tend to be in Industrial Estates, where all the massive warehouse stores are. Hastings cinema is in a separate old building opposite the shopping centre, but it's been there far longer. :p I think only the biggest shopping centres have food levels here. I believe the one in Tonbridge Wells does, but I can't remember if Churchill Square has one. Hastings definitely doesn't as it's quite small. Some just have extra space in the middle where tables and chairs can go, in between shops, rather than a separate level or something.

    What is something you've always wondered about these places? Or what things have you found out that others generally are unaware of?

    Not sure - I don't think I have any special knowledge, but they don't feel exactly secretive to me :p

    If you know, where would the managers office typically be located? Who has access to this area?

    Manager of the whole shopping centre? Your lack of apostrophe leaves me confused. :p The guy who runs the place would probably be on one of the higher levels where there are less shops. There are a lot more private doors, and in Hastings in particular the shops only occasionally go up two levels but the whole shopping centre is at least two storeys high. You can see lots of office windows if you look up. I think the local radio station has an office there as well, if I'm not mis-remembering things. :p

    These are pretty much standard.

    Yes, there are always doors at the back of a shop as well. It'd be a fire hazard if that was the only way in and out.
     
  3. FishKettle
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    FishKettle Member

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    Melzaar the Almighty, thank you for responding! I've only been to one shopping center that had toilets like you describe, you go in one way and when you come out you're somewhere else entirely, I just thought it was poor planning on the developers/designers part.

    I think I'll have to make that a notable scene.
     
  4. zaphod
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    zaphod Member

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    Women's clothing and beauty products, because I am a guy.

    The exterior entry to the mall's one 2-story department store anchor has a 80s-modern glass facade and there are escalators running diagonally between the two leves.
    Yes. On two occasions. The first was Town and Country Mall in Houston, Texas during its final days(it has since been demolished and converted into a mixed-use "urban" development). The second was the former Midtown Mall in Killeen, Texas which still exists.

    Town and Country was a very large mall with a 3-story corridor of shops and parking garages. It succumbed to competition with the even bigger and nicer Memorial City Mall, and also to inaccesibility after the construction of an interchange between Beltway 8 and Interstate 10 around 1987 or so. The Houston beltway is a toll road, and IIRC they have the frontage roads designed to permit limited local traffic from following the highway in that area, and it was never easy to turn into the mall despite signage on the road.

    When I visited as a child, going to a hobby shop(as you can find in low-rent shopping centers), I recall it being eerie. It was not at all decayed, but the upper levels were completely empty and escalators and other features were deactivated. All the architecture details from the 1970s were intact, and it was actually quite attractive in a strange way. Maybe I just have a weird love for that time period.

    Midtown Mall was/is a first-generation enclosed shopping center that I estimate dated from the early 1960s. It was the kind with low ceilings, and anchored by smaller stores which had gradually turned into things like a Wieners(defunct clothing and fabric store). It emptied out due to the construction of a more modern mall, the Killeen Mall, in around 1981 or 82.

    The interior of the mall was actually open but entirely vacant except for a day care center and a tax office. I managed to walk in and found I had entered a time warp to the late 1960s. All the walls were covered in wood paneling, and I could pick out ghost signage from old chains like Orange Julius.

    Also sometime later, I remember kids from my school sneaking and using the planters and dry fountains to skateboard on. I guess it was a cool thing to do or something.

    Nothing spectacular as it is a common early 1980s enclosed mall built when my town was rather small.

    It does have some nontraditional spaces. There once was a cinema, but it has been closed since the 1990s. It has since been a nightclub which got shut down, and I think recently has been converted into a Chuck E Cheese.
    Some malls have been renovated many times throughout their history, or have vacant sections. Behind false walls can lie a wonderful time machine to 30 years ago. When I worked in a store, the rear contained all sorts of promotional materials which had once been displayed, including some Star Wars stuff that would probably be worth a lot of money on e-bay.

    Down a corridor, often near the bathrooms it seems. In my local mall, it is a open area and you must walk past the windows of the mall office to get to the men's restroom. Also I believe it is meant to be seen, as visitors wishing to lease a store or a parent looking for a missing child needs to be able to see a mall manager.

    My local mall has a security company with guards who roam the mall and also drive around the parking lot. The local police also patrol the parking lot in particular, as vehicle break ins are the most common kind of crime.

    I am lucky to not live in a high crime area, which is why my local mall despite being very dated is still a thriving shopping center.
     
  5. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have you ever been lost in a mall/plaza/shopping complex? How old were you when this happened? And if you can remember, tell me about it?
    Not that I can remember...

    Whats your greatest fear/concern when you're in a mall/plaza/shopping complex?
    That I'm going to be there for a long time. Seriously, I hate shopping. :p I know that has nothing to do with the actual shopping place, so uhh, probably not being able to find the exit/getting lost.

    What shops do you normally ignore while you're at one of these places?
    I look at every shop usually just because I'm curious and like being observant. But yeah, I ignore everything other than stationery, books and cool gadget shops.

    Whats one of the most notable features of your local mall/plaza/shopping complex? Whether this is an intentional focal point or something you yourself have personally always noticed?
    I have no idea, I don't think there's anything that notable...

    Have you ever been in an abandoned/empty mall/plaza/shopping complex? What was it like? What state was it in?
    Don't think so.

    What extra's does your local mall/plaza/shopping complex have? IE: outdoor area, split levels, cinema, anything else you can think of?
    None, well it has three levels.

    There's a bigger shopping centre and that has three? levels and they go round in a big circle, well with three main shops in each corner I think so more like a triangle. It has a cinema, a food court, and outside there's a play park, and you can go on boats and I think sometimes there's rock climbing.

    There's also the place with the white tents that Melzaar mentioned.

    What is something you've always wondered about these places? Or what things have you found out that others generally are unaware of?
    I don't know, I don't go in shopping centres unless I absolutely have to. :p

    If you know, where would the manager's office typically be located? Who has access to this area?
    No idea.

    What kind of security does your local mall/plaza/shopping complex possess? Security guards, cameras?
    I assume there's security, maybe there's cameras? I've never really noticed, or if I have I can't remember.

    Don't think I've been that helpful, but ah well!
     
  6. FishKettle
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    zaphod , behind false walls you say? That's very interesting actually. Thank you for replying.

    The question about management is mainly because in my local complex the managers office is located near one of the main entrances but it has no signage pointing it out. It's just a random door leading to some stairs and the door is often locked. The main point people go to is the information center which has signs and everything, so its interesting to me that some places have them (management) clearly visible. Actually come to think of it another local complex also doesn't seem to have an office and I have no idea where it is or where it would fit.

    Also for a low crime area I'm surprise the police drive through the parking lot, unless thats at night. I rarely see security guards at the places I know of but I see cameras everywhere.

    Eunoia, thank you for responding! Your responses are helpful, the fact you haven't noticed things that I personally find very obvious (like cameras) is interesting to me. Its good to be reminded that not everyone notices the things I do and that they probably aren't meant to be noticed in the first place.
     
  7. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    * Have you ever been lost in a mall/plaza/shopping complex? How old were you when this happened? And if you can remember, tell me about it?
    - Once when I was seven. We went to the biggest mall in my country, and I decided to run off. Yes, I was a brilliant child. I don't remember that much about it, other than dad buying me an ice cream when I found him.
    * Whats your greatest fear/concern when you're in a mall/plaza/shopping complex?
    - Pickpockets mainly.
    * What shops do you normally ignore while you're at one of these places?
    - Sports shops... that's it. I love all kind of shops, and I'm a real girly girl. Even if I can't afford anything, I love checking out all these expensive stores and try stuff on.
    * Whats one of the most notable features of your local mall/plaza/shopping complex? Whether this is an intentional focal point or something you yourself have personally always noticed?
    - That the roof is all windows. All the stores are basically four "donuts" layered on top of each other... kind of. It's very hard to describe the shape.
    * Have you ever been in an abandoned/empty mall/plaza/shopping complex? What was it like? What state was it in?
    - I've only been in a closed one. It was kind of creepy when I walked alone, but I usually always walked out with someone.
    * What extra's does your local mall/plaza/shopping complex have? IE: outdoor area, split levels, cinema, anything else you can think of?
    -A McDonalds with an outdoor space and a pizza restaurant. Also, during summer a large parking lot behind the building is used as a tiny carneval. There's also a busstation... somehow.
    * What is something you've always wondered about these places? Or what things have you found out that others generally are unaware of?
    - Very little, though I once worked at a mall that was a very high building and the elevator didn't stop at the sixth (and second highest) floor, and we could never find the stairs that led to it. Even the stairs just skipped straight to the seventh floor. We were told it was because that floor had some constructional issues, but we didn't believe that... because it was too boring.
    * If you know, where would the manager's office typically be located? Who has access to this area?
    - In the two malls I've worked at, there have been several offices located together, either at the top or at the side of the building. The biggest stores have their own office. One of the malls had a conference room. Anyway, the manager's office is there (most of the time I guess). I had full access to all of these areas as people rarely bothered to lock the rooms, but I didn't exactly feel comfortable just walking in and out of there.
    * What kind of security does your local mall/plaza/shopping complex possess? Security guards, cameras?
    - Guards and security cameras.
     
  8. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Have you ever been lost in a mall/plaza/shopping complex? How old were you when this happened? And if you can remember, tell me about it?
    Not that I know of.

    Whats your greatest fear/concern when you're in a mall/plaza/shopping complex?
    That along my planned exit trajectory, I will be ambushed by an obtrusively-situated handbag store, and be dragged inside by my wife for another twenty minutes.

    What shops do you normally ignore while you're at one of these places?
    Basically all of them if I am looking for something specific in one store. If I am really just killing time (it happens, though rarely) I will look at nearly anything..

    Whats one of the most notable features of your local mall/plaza/shopping complex? Whether this is an intentional focal point or something you yourself have personally always noticed?
    I always like it when they have fountains. GUM in Moscow had iron bridges between the floors with little cafés on them, and cherry blossoms in the middle, which was pretty nice.

    Have you ever been in an abandoned/empty mall/plaza/shopping complex? What was it like? What state was it in?
    No. I have, however, seen the outside of a residential/commercial complex whose lower floors were abandoned. Lots of dirt/dust. Boarded up windows in many places, sometimes the boards would be removed. In any case, windows broken in many places, walls and concrete crumbling, paint peeling off, and a persistent smell of urine.

    What extra's does your local mall/plaza/shopping complex have? IE: outdoor area, split levels, cinema, anything else you can think of?
    Hmm... none of those. GUM in Moscow has the Kremlin next to it. I guess that's rather special. :p But the local ones I've been to had nothing, really. Oh, no wait. The abandoned place I mentioned above does have something special. It has a never-used subway station in place in the deep basement. Just the concrete shell, mind you, i.e. no rails, no decorations, no signs etc. But it's there.

    What is something you've always wondered about these places? Or what things have you found out that others generally are unaware of?
    There's a complex not far from where I live, but it's not a mall, rather sort of part of the city center, and it has a service gate below ground which leads to a very wide curving concrete tunnel. I've always wondered where that goes.

    If you know, where would the manager's office typically be located? Who has access to this area?
    No idea, but typically this is in a no-access area.

    What kind of security does your local mall/plaza/shopping complex possess? Security guards, cameras?
    There are some security guards, but not very many of them. The police is right next door, so I guess they feel safe enough.

    EDIT: I have found a blog with some black-and-white pictures of the semi-abandoned complex I mentioned above. The text is in German, but it is not necessary to understand the text, the pictures speak for themselves:
    http://anoxa.de/blog/?p=1433
     
  9. MidnightPhoenix
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    MidnightPhoenix Contributing Member

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    Have you ever been lost in a mall/plaza/shopping complex? How old were you when this happened? And if you can remember, tell me about it?

    I live in the UK, I was in the metro centre. I went into a shop call Debenhams, it has three floors. I went in, looking around and I couldn’t find my way out. I was on the second floor, I was looking around and I came out into the car park area. I went back in, when back up to the three floor, it took me a while, but I just followed people out of the shop. I have never been back in that shop, just in case I get lost in there again.
    I was 20 when that happen, I think.

    Or there was the time. When again I was in the metro centre. I was looking in the shop window and I turn around and I couldn’t find my dad, I was so scary and I started to cry but I relies that my dad was just further down.
    I was only 4 year old at the time.


    What’s your greatest fear/concern when you're in a mall/plaza/shopping complex?

    My fear is that someone is going to try and seal my purse. And that I get lost again.

    What shops do you normally ignore while you're at one of these places?

    I normal try and avoid the little stalls that are along the corridor, there always a few that try and pull you in, so I just quickly walk pass them. I normal avoid the clothes shop, sometimes, the really expensive ones.

    What’s one of the most notable features of your local mall/plaza/shopping complex? Whether this is an intentional focal point or something you yourself have personally always noticed?

    I don’t really know.

    Have you ever been in an abandoned/empty mall/plaza/shopping complex? What was it like? What state was it in?

    Yes, early in the morning. I have been in, it was creepy, all you could hear was your footsteps on the floor. Everything was close, and in some places it was dark, but some had dim lights on.

    What extra's does your local mall/plaza/shopping complex have? IE: outdoor area, split levels, cinema, anything else you can think of?

    There is a small out door play area for the little ones. It has two levels of stores. There is car park outside and an underground car park. There is a tower of a car park, and there entrances point where you can enter into the stairway, and you go up a few stairs to get into the shopping centre.
    The cinema is inside the centre, along with a lot more shops.
    Near by the shopping centre, there a small area of shops, like toy r us, and other shops. There a McDonalds and a KFC and a pizza hut, there all inside as well along with a lot more restaurants.

    What is something you've always wondered about these places? Or what things have you found out that others generally are unaware of?

    I know very little.

    If you know, where would the manager's office typically be located? Who has access to this area?

    I don’t know. But there is some help desk, around the shopping centre. If there any probably, we have to go there. Them are the ones that call over the centre when a child had lost there parents or a car alarms going off.

    What kind of security does your local mall/plaza/shopping complex possess? Security guards, cameras?

    There a lot of security cameras and now and then security guards. You have to have permission to used your camera or video camera, if you don’t a security officer will come over and tell you that you have to put it away.
    There is a small police station near by, outside where the bus station is.
     
  10. FishKettle
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    FishKettle Member

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    spklvr , pickpockets!? Hmm, I hadn't really thought of something like that, I've never encountered that type of thing before but that presents an interesting situation as well. Thank you for answering!

    Porcupine , thank you for responding too! And yes, I get dragged into all manner of shops when I'm out with my friend. The GUM that you described sounds amazing! I'll have to see if I can find pictures of it and extra big thank you for the link!
     
  11. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    GUM is on Wikipedia, you know. ;) With pictures! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GUM_%28department_store%29
     
  12. FishKettle
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    Porcupine , yes! I found that and went on to a bunch of blogs as well. If I didn't have enough reason to travel to Moscow, now I do!!! And thanks again!
     

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