Published on Tuesday, October 31, 2017

There's more to shopping in the Mall of America

For the clear majority of tourists, shopping is one of the top pursuits whilst away from home. Oddly, some trips are specifically designed just for that one single activity in mind. It seems some holidaymakers like nothing better than rooting out bargains at high street stores, seeking out a local delicacy or craft to delight those at home or simply trying to save money.

Exchange rates can obviously make a stark difference to what one buys, but who can resist a stroll around the shops? Well me for one. Under normal circumstances I would rather have my earlobes superglued to a kangaroo's backside than endure a few hours on a high street or in a mall. It takes something special to get me away from golf, telly or the pub with a pint and even then, its done with a sullen look and attitude to match.

For those of you who can relate to my displeasure, I have found a solution. The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. Admittedly it's a long way to go buy some pyjamas, but it's worth it. The MOA, as it is known locally, is 25 years old this year and in that time, it has continued to expand, innovate and improve its offering. This has been in response to big sulks like me but also to their biggest competition - online shopping.

So, what do they do that is so special? Well first and foremost they have one of the largest ranges of shops in one location in the world. Such is the size of the Mall that you could fit 43 Boeing 747's inside it and still have a bit of space left over.

Shopping for overseas visitors is tax free and if you are staying in one of the splendid new hotels attached to the Mall (Radisson Blue or JW Marriot) they will come into the mall proper, take your bags off you and deliver them back to your room, leaving you more energy and muscle to continue to shop.

Alternatively, you could avail yourself of one of the splendid restaurants or bars, not just fast food outlets, although they are there if you feel the need. If you are lucky the Hard Rock Caf-© may be having a Prince night.

The Mall of America is based just outside down town Minneapolis and a stone's throw from MSP airport and as such is in the heart of the Purple Ruler's home patch. Prince tribute acts are commonplace since the great man passed, but to see and hear one in his home town is something special and at the MOA Hard Rock Cafe extra special.

The MOA app is worth downloading and not just to find your way around (electronic maps and route finder kiosks abound at the end of each escalator) but to keep up to date with all the promotions, incentives, exclusive offers, coupons and special events. The data flow is consistent and of high quality, all driven by the MOA social media team who are, to say the least, very innovative. On Black Friday last year, they made it snow in the mall after they reached the goal of 10,000 retweets of the term #swinter. Bizarrely, over half of these retweets came from the UK and the snow storm was streamed live through all the normal channels.

Is this enough for the curmudgeonly Brit shopper? Maybe not, but the mall is designed in a galleried style with a huge hole in the centre which could house I would estimate at least 10 giant aircraft. This space has been filled with a fully functioning, modern Adventure Park! Yes, it's true. Not an aquarium or just a cinema but a full-on pleasure dome. Log Fumes, high wire, Legoland, Sponge Bob Square pants, Pepsi orange streak, Nickelodeon and my favourite ride probably of all time - Fly Over America. It's worth going just for this as you are transported across the US of A in a flying machine with sounds, smells and sights. Fantastic. I have been on it four times now.

If Carlsberg only did shopping malls ..........


Graham was hosted by The Mall of America and Bloomington CVB

You can fly daily to MSP via Delta or Icelandair

The Mall Of America will be at stand NA100 throughout  WTM

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