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Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping by the Author of Why We Buy Paperback – Jan 3 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (Jan. 3 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743235924
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743235921
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.8 x 21.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 222 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #295,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Bestselling "retail anthropologist" Underhill (Why We Buy) talks readers through every aspect of malls, from the first glance at their ugly exteriors along the side of the road to the struggle to remember where the car's parked. Although he offers glimpses of shopping centers around the world, the bulk of this excursion takes place in a mall a few miles outside Manhattan, as Underhill and a rotating cast of companions wander through stores looking for various items, commenting about what does (and doesn't) work about the shopping (and social) experience. The colloquial narration works well, even under potentially strained circumstances ("I need to use the bathroom, and you're coming with me"), although the casual recognition of gender differences in shopping patterns sometimes leads to observations that that readers may find off-putting, like comments on the physical assets of "fat and curvy" women. Underhill clearly revels in mall culture, though he looks upon it with a sharply critical eye; among the biggest complaints: lousy maps and the lack of shopping carts. No detail is too small to escape his attention; if one ever wondered why clothing racks always seem stuffed to capacity, for example, he explains it's because rising real estate prices have largely eliminated storerooms. Some might ask how much detail shoppers really want about how stores entice them to buy, but any nagging doubts will be swept away by the engaging manner in which Underhill passes along the keen insights he's gained through years of retail consulting.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Underhill takes readers on an insightful tour of a typical Saturday at a large, regional mall. He examines the routes there, the shopping center itself, the stores, food, entertainment, ambience, and the customers. He shows why the mall is the way it is and how it could be improved. He provides insight into how the stores are arranged, how they display merchandise, and the different ways that men and women respond to this environment. Written in the first person, the book is light and breezy in style and includes conversations with salespeople, shoppers, and experts in retail sales. According to Underhill, "Teenagers are the ones whose love for the mall is pure and constant and unshadowed by doubt or ambivalence"; by reading this book, they will be able to look more critically at the forces that are at work as they shop.–Jane S. Drabkin, Chinn Park Regional Library, Woodbridge, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
An awesome new business book I read was Why we Buy - The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill. This one is a business book primarily of interest to retailers (although I see similarities in retail and online habits). Paco (and his researchers) followed and recorded the behavior of tens of thousands of shoppers. From this he is able to run a consulting business that makes recommendations to retailers on minor changes they can make to increase their sales.

Examples include - Provide a spot for people to sit, especially the person who brought the shopper. Leave parking spots for people at fast food places since 10% of the customers buy then go eat in their car. Children and old ladies are the primary buyers of doggie treats - put them where they can seen and reached.

He gives many examples of simple changes that can be made to increase sales.

As with all brilliance, many of his observations are obvious.

This book is a must read for any retailer.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is full of interesting stories, information, and ideas written in a breezy manner that made it easy for me to read it in a few settings. Underhill has all sorts of ideas, thoughts, and criticisms about malls all over the world, which he is all too happy to share. Perhaps the most interesting idea he puts forwards is that malls are mostly a creation of real estate developers, who have little understanding of effective retailing. Of course, Underhill also delights in taking professional retailers to task with his various observations.
Anyone looking for a scientific, rigorous description of effective retailing in a mall is going to be disappointed. That's probably for Underhill's clients. Some chapters never seem to provide any facts or conclude anything, and come across as more random observations on a theme. These instances seem more like an opportunity for the author to simply ramble on than really add something to the book. (I suspect Paco Underhill really likes to hear himself talk!)
But this was largely fun to read, and so full of surprising facts and ideas such that I cannot help seeing the modern mall with new eyes.
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Format: Hardcover
Paco Underhill does a wonderful job of capturing the world we retailers have known for years. From the mall's uninspiring architecture to running the perfume gauntlet in department store, Paco takes us on a guided tour of American's new downtowns. Trained to see what others don't see, we learn what works and what doesn't work in malls today.
For retailers it's a great refresher to remind us how every element the customer sees, hears, smells, and experiences impacts the overall customer experience. If you're looking for a book to give you answers, this isn't it. But rather it's a great book to stimulate your thinking and for you to question yourself on how you can improve your store. Every store owner should first read and apply Mr. Underhill's book, Why We Buy and then you'll appreciate Call of the Mall even more.
For non-retailers, Call of the Mall is a great study in human behavior. You'll be amazed at how many times you see yourself described; from how you walk in the mall to shopping in stores like Victoria's Secret. I recommend Call of the Mall; it's a fun read that I'm sure you'll enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
This book was originally subtitled A Walking Tour Through the Crossroads of Our Shopping Culture, which is more descriptive than The Author of Why We Buy on the Geography of Shopping. 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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Format: Hardcover
....but perhaps a bit TOO casual. Paco Underhill follows up on his immensely successful "Why We Buy" with an anthropologist's tour of shopping malls and Americans' obsessions with them.
Underhill is worth his weight in gold to retailers; many of the simple ideas he throws away in this volume would be incredibly useful to shoppers and thus worth money to retailers (for example, clothes displayed shoulder-out on racks are annoying because you can't see what they look like from the front: why not angle them so they can be seen?)
He eventually takes on the longer-term topic of whether malls have a long-term future in the U.S., at least in their current configuration.
Underhill has adopted a casual conversational tone, as though he were chatting to you as his personal companion (or transcribing an audiotape of his thoughts), perhaps in order to make the book enjoyable to read. He succeeds at this readability goal, but the book seems somehwat insubstantial because of it: there's even one chapter that's only a page and a half long, on Aquamassage stores.
As much as I liked this book, I wish he cut some of this trivia out. Like a nosh at the food court, you end up wishing that you'd had a full meal.
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