How Do You Fill A Shopping Mall?

First things first: to read this blog post, you will need to pay me $1 in advance.

How do you fill a shopping mall? Charge admission.
This week, Hillside Mall in Victoria announced a "late night before late nights" event. For $5 per person, shoppers could come into the mall on a Sunday night when the mall is otherwise closed. Stores offered 10% or more off of select items and deals. As of November 23rd through to Christmas, the same mall will be open to 9PM every night.
This afternoon, the mall was active but far from capacity. This evening, the mall was thick with people. No parking spots to be had. Line-ups in every store. The mall had carolers, live piano and free bottles of water. Did that fill the mall up to capacity? No: it was the feeling to exclusivity. To have one of the 2100+ cars in the parking lot; or be one of the 6,000+ people crowdng the stores. For $5 you could be packed into a mall that was a 2/3 full when it was free to visit.
We're still not out of a recession. People are watching their pennies. How then can you charge for something that is commonly free and get a better turn-out than otherwise? Between the surcharge for admission and the lack of money available, you would expect a poor turn-out, or some small elite segment. Instead you got everyone showing up.
Is this glutton culture in action; or the bottled water craze? People can be casual when they do not have to pay, but they crush in when there is a price attached. Where else is this playing out? Bottled water is an excellent example. I keep going back to my childhood lemonade stand. I offered lemonade for 25¢ and water for 10¢-- it was a cheaper option and I still had to pay for the styrofoam cups. Kids scoffed at me "no one will pay for water!" Fast forward a generation and people are guzzling aqua fina for the same price as their favorite sugar water (aka Coca Cola). Somehow you don't only attach a price to something of value: people are attaching value to something of a price. Is this topsy-turvey system a key to wealth? Or maybe, it's just a way to make brand new rubes.

That'll be $1, please. Just feed it into the disk slot. I'll get it via the Internet.

UPDATE: The Dollar Store in the mall
offered 25% off all items. That was great, but it came with a catch: not all of the items we bought were put in the bag. So-- we saved 25% on $20 of goods, but they left out $5 of items. You do the math on how much we actually saved...


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