Recently, my friend Garrick and I came up with the following thought exercise: If you were to design the perfect shopping mall, what types of stores would it have? The rules are simple. It does not have to be existing brands or even what one would find in the modern American mall — just types of stores. To keep it easy we limited ourselves to ten.

Most malls have become bland wastelands of fast fashions targeted towards the lowest common denominator. Beige behemoths located, usually, “out there somewhere” and easily accessible only by those with cars. Yet, the first earliest shopping malls were designed to be a destination centerpiece for the urban family around which walkable self-sustaining communities would form. That was what Victor Gruen envisioned when inventing them.

We thought the exercise would, perhaps, reveal some things about what we like and are interested in that we had not considered before. We also thought that it would expand the idea of what a shopping mall could be.

Here’s mine.

  1. A men’s clothing store that carries well made, affordable, timeless, basics. Clothes that last long, wear well, and never go out of style.
  2. A fine pen and stationery store, specializing in imported brands/items (Japan, Germany, etc.) with some vintage items too.
  3. A travel store specializing in light packing clothing and gear.
  4. A really, really, good independent book store with an excellent children’s section, a mix of universally revered classics and great new releases, an expansive selection of magazines and literary journals from all over the world, and a knowledgable staff who provide great recommendations.
  5. A really good cooking store that sells seriously good supplies for the home chef.
  6. A store that sells nice bags of all different shapes, sizes, materials, and uses.
  7. A fitness center with a nice indoor running track, good modern exercise equipment, and plenty of yoga and meditation class offerings.
  8. A museum with a nice mix of classic and contemporary art. There is a price attached to every painting — so you could theoretically buy anything assuming you have the money to do so.
  9. A great hat store. From formal to casual and everything in between. Some good vintage stock as well.
  10. A nice gift store with unique, interesting, useful, and fun items for all ages. The kind of place that always has that “just what I’m looking for” gift for family or friends.

There you have it. I suppose I’m not surprised by any of these. Most that know me well probably would not be either. Still, it was fun to imagine and see what sorts of things are important to me. Quality is a big one — a theme that pops up over and over again. Also interesting is what is not in my mall. One may notice there is not an Apple Store or any modern technology store in there. I’m not against those things, obviously. They just should be in someone else’s mall, not mine.

I find this a lot of fun to think about and have left room on the page I listed these in case I want to expand my malls offerings to more than ten.