Big Mall: Shopping for Meaning

Coach House. Feb. 2024. 184p. ISBN 9781552454725. pap. $18.95. SOC SCI
Award-winning Canadian essayist Black analyzes the rise and the decline of indoor malls. The first American indoor mall was the Southdale Shopping Center in Edina, MN, which opened in 1956. Its two floors featured exotic birds, a petting zoo, a fishpond, an ice rink, a carousel, and 72 stores. Other space was used for a school, a post office, medical offices, and even a library. This innovative success led to the building of an additional 250+ malls across the United States over the next 10 years. By 2019, however, national legislation was proposed to save the no longer profitable shopping structures, but it didn’t pass. Black, who also offers personal tidbits about how malls have made her feel during her childhood through adulthood, explains that several factors led to their decline, including perceived and actual unsafe conditions in parking lots, poor upkeep and security, increased crime rates involving young people from areas outside of where the malls were located, online retail, and the pandemic lockdown. Black argues that “dead malls” often house fond memories and coming-of-age stories of those who frequented them in their heyday.
VERDICT The best up-to-date study on malls. For general readers, especially those interested in sociology and capitalism-related topics.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing