Starting this week, the Cherry Creek Shopping Center will begin charging for parking — not just in the structure, but in the outlying lots as well. (Sorry, Safeway.) Sure, the first hour is free, but who goes to the mall for less than an hour? The entire concept of a mall (and the ’80s) is based on sticking around and making a day of it. So you’re bound to pay the $3 for the second hour, or even the $16 maximum.
You might think that a dying concept like an indoor mall actually charging more would be a bad idea. And in that, you would be right. It’s like SeaWorld raising ticket prices. It’s like the rates for landlines going up. It’s like…well, like a very bad idea. In the spirit of what Cherry Creek laughingly refers to as "Smart Parking," here are eight other very unwise charges that the mall could institute in order to increase revenue.
8. Pay Toilets
Is there anything more insulting than forcing people to pay to use the facilities? It’s not like an Orange Julius, which you can decide whether or not to imbibe. When you have to go, you have to go — no matter if you have a pocketful of change or a dangerous lack of liquid assets.
7. No More Free Samples
Look, Hickory Farms, there’s a reason that Cherry Creek hasn’t welcomed you aboard, and it’s because the mall is already down with the forget-the-free-sample strategy. Because who likes free samples? People without money, that’s who. Bath & Body Works? Stop with the lotion samples. Panda Express? Keep your orange chicken to yourself. Cherry Creek doesn’t want to attract the wrong sort.
6. Charge for the Chairs
We’ve all seen them — and some of us have been them. You know, those folks who got dragged to the mall but don’t want to pretend to want to shop. So they stake out one of those quasi-comfortable cigar chairs and loveseats in the middle of the walkways, a slit-eyed repository for already-purchased items, coats and the like. They’ll defend those perches to the death — and ask their spouse or kid to keep their seat safe while they’re in the bathroom or grabbing a Starbucks. So why not make some money on that precious property?
5. Monetize Santa’s Lap
There was a time when the mall-Santa technique was pretty simple: Get in line, nuzzle up to a guy in a fake beard, have your picture taken, get a candy cane, get out. Then the place started charging for photos with Santa. Now the whole event is a virtual-reality experience (this past year, it was Santa’s Flight Academy), which in no way should be confused with a cynical effort to monetize the add-on expenditures of parents who desperately want to capture the memory in custom Christmas frames. Just charge everyone up front: Embrace the crass commercialism of the season.
4. Add More Kiosks
Everybody loves mall kiosks. No, wait; that was Raymond. Everybody loved him. Everybody hates mall kiosks, full of mostly useless merchandise with either completely disinterested salespeople hovering nearby on their phones, or over-enthusiastic salespeople who ask every passing mall-goer if they want to try their lotion, phone case or Colorado turkey jerky. But they make money, so fill the place up with them. Thanks, Piercing Pagoda, for this awesome legacy.
3. Replace Drinking Fountains With Bottled-Water Vending Machines
Remember back when you were a kid, and drinking from a public fountain didn’t squick you out? (That is, unless the pinhead in front of you in line was one of those who put their mouth actually on the spigot, which is gross even for a kid who’ll eat a stray gummy bear off the supermarket floor.) It’s time to capitalize on our adult wish for cleanliness by selling water instead of stupidly giving it away. Hydration is a privilege, people.
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2. Mall-Walking Speed Limits
Old people are exercising on your dime, Cherry Creek. Squash that shit quick with some mall cops and a radar gun that will allow you to ticket anyone walking too slowly (or too quickly — might as well penalize the teenagers, too) for what you define as “normal.”
1. Sell Tickets to the Play Structure
Let’s face it: The play area is the only reason the Cherry Creek Shopping Center is still standing. So why not restrict it to only those who can afford to pay for it? This is Cherry Creek, after all. One last coffin nail, smelling of pretzels, cinnamon buns and botox, coming up.