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The Call of the Mall: How We Shop [Paperback]

Paco Underhill

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Book Description

1 April 2004
Like Underhill's bestseller, Why We Buy, this is a pleasurable and informative book on how we shop that surprises and tickles. Like Bill Bryson's Walk in the Woods, which took readers up the Appalachian Trail, this book takes readers to a place they know much better: the shopping centre, the place where people meet. Nothing exemplifies shopping more than the mall or shopping centre. It is the US's gift to personal consumption and the crossroad where consumer marketing, media and street culture meet. It is where the developed world (and increasingly everyone else too) goes to acquire, eat and hang out. It is where fashion trends are made dreams are constructed, and many people find their first jobs. The Call of the Mall is about sex and buying lingerie, about why the same camel coat costs exactly twice as much in the women's department to the men's, about why all mall food is so dreadful when the commodities in the shops are so good. Why location matters so much - but more for perfumes than DIY and why malls are invariably such bad architecture. Underhill's views on the mall are sophisticated, funny, serious, and surprising.

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About the Author

Paco Underhill is the author of the international bestseller Why We Buy, which sold over 750,000 copies worldwide and was translated into 12 languages. He is a world-famous retail anthropologist and urban geographer and the founder and CEO of Envirosell Inc, a global consulting firm who specialise in consumer behaviour.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pall of the Mall 21 Dec 2008
By takingadayoff - Published on
Maybe you are one of those people who loves to spend time at the mall, but there are an awful lot of us who have mixed feelings about shopping and malls. Paco Underhill, who seems to be a mall-lover, speaks to both enthusiastic and reluctant shoppers alike.

Underhill takes us on a walk through the mall, visiting malls throughout the world, and taking a look at some of the neglected areas of the mall. He brings along different specialists, such as an architect, a visual merchandiser (which used to be called a window dresser, but is now much more than that), and a teenage shopper. He and his guests deconstruct the mall and the mall experience. The tone of the book is conversational and amusing.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the mall is how relatively unplanned it all is. I suppose I thought that every aspect of the mall would have been studied and designed for maximum profit, but Underhill reveals that this is not the case. The parking lot is haphazard, the restrooms are almost afterthoughts, the mall map is useless, the lighting is inadequate, the outside appearance and entrance are uninspired.

You know how you never see a clock in a mall? I thought that was deliberate, like in the casinos, where you are encouraged to leave the real world behind and forget about mundane things like whether it is day or night. After reading The Call of the Mall, I can safely assume it is not deliberate, just something the designers never even thought of.
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