We went to a new mall today, in the nearby town of Ekimmerse, down the I-Net Highway, and believe me: this is the wave of the future! It’s called “The Wide World Mall,” and it’s designed to be a combination of the future and the past.
Evocative of when we all were kids at summer camp, the parking lot is
divided up into colorful sections, with each one having a fun kind of
name. We parked in the ATT lot, and took a DSL (dedicated shuttle line)
bus to the nearest main entrance.
Right away we encountered a security guard, so we felt better knowing
there wouldn’t be any sudden terrorist attacks. He was a friendly kind
of fella, and asked what sort of people we were. I didn’t understand,
so he explained.
He said there are “Explorers,” “Foxes,” “Opera lovers,” and those on
“Safari.” He told us they don’t get all that many of the latter two,
but he sees a lot of kids who want to be an explorer or a fox. I asked
how come he had to know ahead of time?
The problem, he told us, is that this new mall has been designed with
different people in mind. So if you’re an explorer, you tend to want to
see things bigger than they really are; they give you some special
glasses. On the other hand, Fox-type people aren’t allowed to go into
certain places, so they have a special badge they wear.
We decided we’d be Foxes, because we like fur coats, and we like to
think we’re sort of canny and crafty. He gave us our special badges,
cautioned us about going into certain blind alleys, and we were on our
What an amazing new way of shopping!
Every store had a different setup at the entrance. A lot of them just
had an open door, and you could go in and look around. But the ones we
liked a lot were the ones that had another security guard at the locked
See, what happens is that you come to the store, but before you can go
in and look around, you have to join the store. All the guards at the
front entrances were very nice, and they explained it’s simple, really.
You just fill out a form, then you get a membership pin, and then you
can go inside.
I wondered how I would know if I should join, if I hadn’t been inside
the store? They just smiled and said, “Oh…lots of people ask that!
Nobody knows…it’s a mystery.”
Having seen a few of these, some of which had some tantalizing food
smells coming out of them, we decided we’d join a few. We filled out
various cards, got our pins, and realized we couldn’t remember where
we’d put them. Kathy had a great idea, though! We went to a Scottish
Highlander store and bought a plaid sash. Then we stuck all our
membership pins onto the sash.
By the end of the day, we had an entire sash full of these membership
pins we didn’t know what to do with. So we gave them to some people
getting off the Comcast bus. Turns out we only joined a few stores,
though, out of all of them. It was just too much trouble to figure out
why we couldn’t see what was in the store and what to do with the pins.
Another thing that we totally enjoyed was the “empty windows” décor a
lot of places had chosen. You walk by the store and instead of a window
showing their stuff, there’s a brick wall, whitewashed very nicely. It
really makes a great party game, because they’ll usually have a tiny
little sign on the wall.
These signs are like clues, where they say things like, “Guess what’s
inside?” Or they might say, “We’ve got THE BEST stuff!” A lot of times
they had a security person up front, too, where you had to join.
We got something to eat, then sat across from some of these stores. Not
many people went inside, and they wouldn’t talk about what they’d seen
when they came out. Must’ve been pretty scary!
After a few hours we were getting a bit tired, what with all the
excitement. We’d accidentally wandered into a blind alley, forgetting
we were Fox kids, and sure enough….we went blind! I swear t’God! There
we were, and suddenly we couldn’t see squat! Fortunately, this happened
right away, so we just stepped back a few steps and our vision returned.
We decided to pick up some nifty gadgets in this one store, so we went
to the sales person. They were actually life-like statues, and only
there for show, but we saw a checkout counter and wandered over. The
person behind the counter looked real, but they were one of these
advance Animatronic Bots the mall advertised.
Instead of paying for our gadgets, they told us they’d hold them until
we were ready to go home. “That’s convenient,” I told Kathy, and we
handed over the stuff.
They didn’t have any prices on anything, and I asked, “So how much do we owe you?”
Here’s where it gets amazing! They wouldn’t tell us what we owed them!
We’d only find out when we were on our way back to the car! How cool is
that? Instead of worrying about how much money you have and maybe
cutting short your afternoon, you don’t worry at all, and just hope you
have enough! Much better than credit cards, where you don’t actually
use real money at all!
Anyway; it was a fabulous day. We have no idea what’s inside a lot of
the stores, but that’s okay; there were lots of others to explore.
Would we go back? Well, maybe. Some of the places gave us a phone
number where we could just order from home using a catalog they had.
Keep an eye out, though: I hear these malls are being developed all over the world!