Be patient with the guy in the front of the line at The LEGO Store, debating between play sets for his grandkids. At Mall of America, it just might be Alice Cooper.
Indeed, the Godfather of Shock Rock is also a grandpa, who really enjoys shopping at the Mall with his wife. Last time, he stopped by the management office to show off his purchases. Without the black eye makeup, he almost blends in. Almost.
Spontaneous Shopping Sprees
Beyond the hundreds of official celebrity appearances at the Mall every year—from athletes and music legends to best-selling authors and Internet sensations—the Mall is a magnet for stars, even in their off-duty hours. It’s been that way since the early days. Michael Jackson visited at least three times to shop and eat at Rainforest Cafe.
“We’d always know it was him because of the elaborate disguises,” said Maureen Bausch, former executive vice president of marketing and business development at the Mall.
When Justin Bieber has downtime between concerts in the Twin Cities, he’s been known to pop up at the Mall—one time, he took a turn in the Amazing Mirror Maze before a low-key lunch at Tony Roma’s.
“Once I was walking through Camp Snoopy and Aerosmith was getting on the Screaming Yellow Eagle,” recalled Kris Cegla, the Mall’s director of events and marketing operations.
Donny Osmond. Charlie Sheen. MC Hammer. Hilary Duff. Name a celebrity, past or present, and chances are, they’ve visited the Mall.
Before opening for a Black Eyed Peas concert, Ludacris shopped with his girlfriend at Club Monaco (and rolled out on a ride or two).
When Kevin James stopped at the Mall, he couldn’t resist channeling his inner Paul Blart with a ride on a Segway.
Mila Kunis has popped into Aldo without causing a commotion. And the locally-owned men’s shirt store, Hammer Made, attracts an eclectic celebrity crowd: Real Housewives of Orange County’s Vicky Gunvalson bought her man a shirt, Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts stocked up on socks, and Bill Nye the Science Guy picked up—you guessed it—a bow tie.
Planet Hollywood: Celeb-Spotting Hotspot
In the early days, Planet Hollywood was the best bet for star sightings at the Mall. Co-owners Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger all attended the opening. Schwarzenegger spent the most time at the restaurant, during the making of Jingle All the Way, which filmed scenes at the Mall. But other stars—Don Jonson and Melanie Griffith, Whoopi Goldberg, Angelina Jolie—would pop in whenever they came to town, said Molly Steinke, who was Planet Hollywood’s publicist. Especially if they had something to promote…like a romance.
“One day Roseanne and Tom Arnold came in,” remembered Steinke. “It was the first time they’d been seen together since one of their famous break ups, so I asked, ‘Do you mind if we take a few pictures?’” If they were trying to stay under the radar, Steinke said, they probably wouldn’t have shown up at Planet Hollywood. She quickly got the photos developed (this was the early ‘90s) and sent them to the Associated Press. The story made People magazine.
Sometimes celebrities will give the Mall a heads up that they’re coming—Sarah Michelle Geller did that before a recent shopping spree.
“Other times we find out after the fact,” Cegla said. “A lot of times, they just want to be here and be normal.” Or, as normal as you can be when you’re Selena Gomez, walking a contest winner through the Verizon Destination Store while a couple thousand fans try to catch a glimpse through the windows.
Keep your eyes peeled!