Mall of America has always been a magnet for novel retail concepts. And that includes actual magnets. Magnet Max is one of many stores to get attention through the years for its singular focus. Where else but MOA could a store thrive selling nothing but magnets? More than 1,000 varieties, at that!
Holograms. Toy farm animals. As Seen on TV. An oxygen bar. Peanut butter. A store that recreated the world of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon USA. You name it, we’ve tried it—or would probably consider it. Who remembers Bare Bones—the store that sold replica bones and science gadgets right outside Nordstrom? Shoppers could stock up on shoes and skeletons in one convenient trip. Or how about Archiver’s? When scrapbooking took off, MOA was one of the first places to find it.
One unusual concept that got a lot of press: MinneNAPolis, a store that sold naps (seriously), for 70 cents per minute. The owner theorized that tired shoppers would appreciate a chance to catch a bit of shut-eye between stores. However, MinneNAPolis closed in 2006, after just six months.
“Some concepts are not meant to be here 10 years,” says Lisa Taylor, the Mall’s director of specialty leasing. “And that’s OK—we’re happy to try it.”
Sometimes the quirkier ideas totally take off. A store selling socks —just socks—seemed strange in 1992, but could you imagine the Mall today without Sox Appeal? It’s one of 47 original tenants still at MOA.
That willingness to take a chance on ideas that are new, experimental, or even a little weird is what has always made MOA such a one-of-a-kind experience. A place where you can shop all the mall mainstays, from Gap to Macy’s, then get a figurine of yourself made at the Me 3D store or buy a cheesehead hat at Rybicki Cheese.
Where Retail Concepts Are Born
When a new retail concept is launched nationwide, MOA is often one of the first to get it. Martin + Osa was American Eagle’s short lived (albeit, popular) attempt at attracting more mature shoppers. For young kids, American Eagle tried 77 Kids at MOA—complete with interactive games to keep kids occupied while their parents shopped. While other malls were reluctant to make space for QVC, a brand that promotes shopping from home, MOA welcomed the home shopping network enthusiastically. QVC at the Mall thrived for several years, hosting live broadcasts from the store and attracting celebrity appearances.
JM Cremp’s, a popular catalog company specializing in adventure toys, came to life at MOA. It started out as a temporary holiday store, and three years later, it’s going strong. Brickmania is another recent success story. At the Mall, the Minneapolis-based company has found a broader audience for its military themed LEGO kits.
For niche companies looking to amplify their brand, MOA is a unique opportunity, as an international tourist destination. After 20 years of selling direct to consumers, Juno Active opened its first and only store this summer at MOA. “Mall of America is special, says Anne Kelly, founder of the plus size active wear brand. “It’s the perfect place to get the word out about what we’re doing. We also want to stay in touch with the latest trends, and Mall of America is a great place to do that.”