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Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, but also hardly recognizable today, American shopping malls were commercial and social havens. Malls weren’t just places for people who needed or wanted to buy things, but also for people who needed or wanted to get out of their homes and away from their parents or kids.

Today, an internet shopping revolution and world pandemic later, malls are ideal for movies set in the 1980s or empty spaces for 16 year-olds to learn how to drive with no one around. And even when we eventually emerge from our homes COVID-triumphant, malls will still be in serious peril. I’m even starting to think that malls may never see the future where Dippin’ Dots are the ice cream of now!

Malls need a major overhaul if they do not want to go extinct like the dinosaurs that roamed Earth before an internet shopping revolution and/or major comet killed them. Luckily, The Prompt has an Ideas Guy™ for these kinds of things, and I am him, here to give free advice on how to adapt to a new generation of business. In return I only ask for free Mrs. Fields cookies for life, though I am willing to negotiate.

Every other mall in America needs to be turned into an Experience Factory!©

Kids and young adults do not care about the things that their parents did. They don’t care about having Yankee Candles, or woven placemats, or even any of those personalized family tchotchkes from Things Remembered. People want to do things and have experiences like home-brew classes or avocado toast restaurants, instead of material possessions like homes and mortgages.

Sure, it will take some time for people to get over their germ-phobias, but we’re Americans and we have very short attention spans. Most of us are down to washing our hands for just the first line of Happy Birthday, and only sometimes with warm water. Malls can use their outrageous square footage and become massive play places for people of all ages, which will also create tons of jobs, constructing new realities for these old steel dinosaur bones.

Just think about all the things that could fill your former favorite places to gather and do nothing…

Instagram Glamour Shots (presented by Instagram and Glamour Shots)

Studios with brightly colored walls and wacky objects to spruce up even a basic bitch’s IG grid. Set a thirst trap in the same spaces that were home to Orange Julius, the first thirst trap!

Game Show/Reality Show Studios

We are a population that has spent a year watching too many television competitions shows. You’re telling me that if you could go participate in a Great British Bake-Off competition against nine strangers, or family members who you wish were strangers, you wouldn’t? Same for The Floor is Lava, Shark Tank, and Chopped. More interested in nostalgia? Of course you are! You could have an entire mall dedicated to old Nickelodeon game shows like Double Dare, GUTS, and Nick Arcade!

Podcast Studios

The bad news is that Congress won’t be giving us $2,000 stimulus checks, but the worse news is that they are giving every American their own stimulus podcast, because in reality it could be worth way more than two grand if you market it the right way! If you don’t already have one, you will be getting one in the next 6 months. Congrats! And don’t go podcasting it all in one place.

Escape Rooms

You know how whenever you walked into an Abercrombie and Fitch, you immediately regretted it and wanted to leave, but couldn’t find your way out because all of the mannequins were distractingly hot? Like that, but more with more clues and less cologne and house music-induced headaches.

Trampoline Parks (but even bigger and more EXXXXXTREME!)

Picture your local SkyZone. And now picture it on two or more levels and with a fountain full of pennies! If malls had been trampoline parks in the ‘90s, it wouldn’t have been so scary when those two dweebs dangled Tai over the railing in Clueless.

Smash Rooms

An elixir for 2020… we all need these right now. You can kill two birds with one stone by taking all the abandoned shit out of the vacant William-Sonomas and KB Toys and letting people pay (via Venmo, probably) to smash the ever-hating shit out of them with a weapon of their choice.

VR Emporiums

Wouldn’t you love to finally try all those virtual reality games you’ve been hearing about, without having the headset in your home, continuously enticing down a rabbit-hole of VR porn from which you will never escape? Me neither, but I am sure it applies to someone out there, and the point is not to judge them.

Graffiti Zones

Oh so you think Banksy isn’t that good? Here’s your chance to show the community your artistic side. If it gets enough 5-star ratings, it will stay, but if we vote it down, it will be covered with the next piece of modern art.

So, to the Simon and Westfields mall groups, and any others still in the epically screwed mall business: these are just the first of many ideas on how to salvage your properties and make them back into the thriving commercial centers they used to be! Also, a good way to remind people that you still exist would be to open your doors to medical partners looking to distribute the vaccine to the masses! If you want more, hit my business partners and me up on Twitter, @thepromptmag.

Josh Bard

Josh Bard is a guy. A sports guy, an ideas guy, a wise guy, a funny guy, a Boston guy, and sometimes THAT guy. Never been a Guy Fieri guy, though.

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