Attention, mall owners – shoppers want more

 

 Metrotown, B.C.'s biggest mall with 450-plus stores, so it should know better, has not a single free play area for children. Photograph by: QDS , Vancouver SunMetrotown, B.C.'s biggest mall with 450-plus stores,so it should know better, has not a single free play area for children.
Photograph by: QDS , Vancouver Sun

By Shelley Fralic,  Vancouver Sun

VANCOUVER – Wouldn't it be great if a mall offered more than just shopping?

Like, what if it had an attached hotel with rooms done up in an African Safari or Arctic Igloo theme?

And how cool would it be if, on your way to the dollar store, you could stop and watch real sea lions frolic in a sea cave?

Or, better yet, hop on the roller-coaster with your pals for a wee diversion from all that retail therapy.

Oh, wait, that's a description of West Edmonton Mall, isn't it?

You know. The mall with 800 stores, five million square feet, 24,000 employees and so many attractions that Disney lawyers sued it for impersonating one of its theme parks.

When WEM opened in 1981, it was like nothing a North American shopper had ever seen, taking the title at the time as the world's largest mall, and certainly the mall with the most non-shopping features.

It has a triple-loop roller-coaster, a wave pool, a hockey rink called the Ice Palace, a minigolf course, a nightclub, a sea-life cavern, an indoor shooting range, a chapel, a large-scale replica of the Santa Maria and a recreation centre with a bowling alley.

And, yes, shops, too many to cover in a day, so many that there are themed areas, like Bourbon Street, Chinatown and Europa Boulevard. If that isn't enough, it also boasts the world's largest parking lot.

At nearly 31 million annual visitors, WEM has had its issues...(read the complete article)

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