Excerpt from ‘Final Stores: Consumerism in the Pre-Internet Age’, Pietro Mulligan & Sascha Bordstrøm (eds.), 2150
In the era before ubiquitous home delivery services and DroneDrops™ made leaving the home to purchase goods an unnecessary inconvenience, consumers had to travel into a certain district, known as Retailia, in order to obtain the items they desired or required. Retailia was made up of numerous structures, called ‘shops’, which each specialised in a unique area of commerce; home entertainment, pharmaceuticals, plastic surgery, and so on. In these urban markets, people could purchase a variety of commodities with relative ease.
However, it soon became apparent that this was not enough. This was spotted by the great industrial entrepreneur Walton Debenham, who in 1955 invented the first ‘shopping mall’; the giant building, constructed out of necessity in the badlands of Beverly Hills, contained an array of boutiques under one roof. The idea, simplicity in itself, was to provide customers with a cathedral of capitalism, a prison from which the only escape was earned by the spending of cold, hard currency. Everything a person needed could be found among the various outlets, along an impressive amount of pure, unadulterated tat.
Often, these malls would have two or more levels, in order to increase capacity and choice, and the levels would be connected by moving staircases or ‘escalators’. These mobile steps would travel at soul-crushingly slow pace, and this in turn would induce a kind of mania in the mall-goers unfortunate enough to find themselves aboard.
Going to a shopping mall was therefore both unavoidable and incredibly distressing, as those who disliked crowds had no alternative but to brave the irksome throngs of fellow shoppers…
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…€