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The Future of Shopping

Memphis Magazine - April 2001

In Feb 1987, mall management was pretty sure they were the wave of the future. In an article in Memphis Magazine, Dennis Allen, Marketing Director, Mall of Memphis was quoted as saying:

''Our typical shopper is 31 years old with a salary of $27,000. He or she comes here on an average of once a week and spends $50 each time.

And ten years later, the mall-haunting Yuppie offspring of these Poplar Plaza gals would find a hipper way to say it — and display it across their Volvo bumpers: “Shop Till You Drop.”

We’d come a long way, baby. Certainly their grandmother back on Main and Front wouldn’t understand this strange command (“Shop Till You Drop? Drop what?”). No, because implicit in this consumer couplet is the bizarre invitation to Pleasure-Yourself-To-Death. Buy Till You Die. Spend Till You’re Spent.

“Shop Till You Drop” represents a shared spiritual goal akin, say, to the centuries-past desire of many good Christians to expire in the Holy Land. Now, though, for the new consumer pilgrim, it was simply to drop dead in Dillard’s. Why so pale and wan, fond shopper? No doubt St. Peter will begin his roll call, “Attention, K-Mart shoppers . . . .”

All that was needed was a temple suitable to house this new consumer philosophy. The exposed shopping centers and stodgy department stores of the Fifties wouldn’t do. Too drafty and depressing. Zero panache.''

The "panache" was short lived, as it turns out. So was the "temple".