Mall of America retail therapy, a true American Icon

Mall of America retail therapy, a true American Icon

The United States of America has created a whole host of contemporary icons, from which the rest of the world has followed.

The Mall has to be one of those icons.

Please do read this to give more details about booking luxury shopping trips to any destination we have covered.

I would not necessarily say I am a Mall beginner but not far off it. So with my intrepid explorer’s hat on I boarded a plane, First Class of course, and Chauffeur driven to the airport….you cannot move too quickly towards bubble-gum pop, sneakers, cherry aid and any other clichéd Americana that I can think of.

Where did you travel to Michael…. Good question…
I flew off to Minnesota in the Great Big US of A….
Why did you go there Michael. Well as part of my midlife crisis, I have just turned 47 and obviously need to find my roots….
Mmmm so you are heading off to Route 66, and bought a vintage Harley Davidson….
Well not quite but heh I like the great link DUDE ….
No I am heading off to the place that inspired my Rock’n’Roll career as my first band was called The Minnesota Icemen…
Yes within the first week of University in 1985, living in a flat with no phone or internet (YES I KNOW, HOW DID I SURVIVE!) I bought a bass amp and guitar and with 2 fellow students, formed my first band…..wowwww what memories…I know the neighbours loved it …OH YES….
If you need to place the year a little more Bruce Springsteen was touring, whom I saw, with his Born in The USA tour.

Michael Grenville, lead singer in The Minnesota Icemen - photo taken in 1985 in Newcastle upon Tyne while at University
Michael Grenville, lead singer in The Minnesota Icemen – photo taken in 1985 in Newcastle upon Tyne while at University

A couple of years later while working in a record store, a single came out by Tiffany called I Think We’re Alone Now.

Have a look at the video and you can see how much The Mall is featured. In fact Tiffany toured the Malls of America making her pop career. A few months later I visited the US for the first time with my American girlfriend and new love of my life going on a whistle-stop tour of the northern states. Don’t worry I am not going to bore you with anymore photos of my first US trip but I have just looked at some of these photos and I had hair!!!

So yes I was heading to Bloomington, in Minnesota, very close to Minneapolis where yes Prince comes from whose album is having its 30th anniversary. Read about a new Prince Cycle Tour

Michael you forgot something …The Minnesota Icemen…..

This is totally true and amazing that we put the word ice into the title as none of us either knew where Minnesota was but equally did not know that it is a very icy part of the US, certainly in Winter. I will divulge more about this sometime in the future.

So back to my journey….

As you would expect Gentlemans Butler like to travel in style. This we do using our chauffeur service of choice. Crown Chauffeur Drive who serve everyone from VIP’s to Embassies and beyond. My initial conversation with Neil Davies OBE, The Managing Director of Crown Chauffeur Drive centred around the simple concepts of excellent service. This you do arriving with time to spare, courteous, comfortable, water, newspaper, “from home to hotel” as I refer to this type of top service. Ultimately the most important thing is people do what they promised to, and do it well which is why I have no hesitation in recommending them.

What’s this got to do with midlife crisis Michael.
Everything….. you reach a point in life when you just want things done properly. SIMPLES!!

Neil Davies OBE, The Managing Director of Crown Chauffeur Drive
Neil Davies OBE, The Managing Director of Crown Chauffeur Drive

Having been dropped off just a few feet away from the Virgin Terminal my Virgin service desk briskly checked me in. I then walked up via the fast route to The Virgin Clubhouse where I had coffee and croissant. Certainly this is a wonderful facility to start your journey with masses of space and a whole host of facilities from business to pampering.
I was on the London – Chicago route, staying in Chicago for 2 nights and then a short hop using Virgin’s north American partner Delta taking me onto to Minneapolis St Paul.

Virgin Clubhouse London Heathrow
Virgin Clubhouse London Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic flies daily from London Heathrow to Chicago seasonally between April and October and is offering return Economy fares from £541.00 per person. For further information contact www.virginatlantic.com or call 0844 2092 770. This fare is available for selected departures in 2015

So back to Tiffany…
So after leaving school whilst planning the next stage in my rock n roll career I spent some time in a record store, ahhh yes vinyl.. young youngsters will have to go and talk to ma and pa about those things called RECORDS.

This was the mid-eighties and Tiffany was vying with Debbie Gibson and touring with The Backstreet Boys.

The whole world seems to know about America and particularly at this time with the rise of MTV and massive American tv and films….you suddenly get transfixed from looking onto grey cold landscapes to a Technicolor world of excitement.
I can remember with my first visit going to a Mall in Oregon and just being amazed at how big everything was, well that’s nothing compared to The Mall of America.

EastBroadway, Mall of America
EastBroadway, Mall of America

Think of how many TV shows have Malls in them..
In the script it’s somewhere to hang, meet your sweetheart (of course with parents’ permission …mmmm) sit, buy ice-cream and of course look super cool….
I think actually all of these things are pretty international. Across many parts of the world teenagers spend huge amounts of time getting ready to look cool to go shopping.
Saturdays were and are still very much days where shopping, romance and teen growing all happens together.

So before you tell us Michael about the biggest Mall in America tell us a little about Bloomington..

Settle down kids….maybe get some popcorn!!!

Gideon Pond is the famous name you need to reference. Peter and Louisa Quinn were the first European settlers, teaching farming methods to Dakota Indians. This was the 1850’s and by 1930 the population was only 2,645 but by the 1950’s this had risen to about 10,000 and is now somewhere around 90,000.
The space where the Mall of America stands was previously occupied by the Met Stadium home to the local baseball team The Twins.

Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota
Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota

Unsurprisingly the largest employer is The Mall of America (13,000 people) and in 2001 Mall of America Police Station opened. 2002 Mall of America celebrated 10th year with annual sales of $900 million. In 2004 Bloomington received triple-A bond rating from Fitch, one of only 20 cities out of 87,000 local governments in the U.S. to achieve triple-A ratings from all three bond rating agencies. In 2012 Mall of America celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Mall of America® is the US’ largest retail and entertainment complex. At 4.2 million square feet, MOA is home to more than 520 world-class shops; Nickelodeon Universe®, the nation’s largest indoor family amusement park; SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, a 1.2 million gallon walk- through aquarium; Moose Mountain Adventure Golf; Theatres at Mall of America® – a 14-screen movie theatre with VIP theatre and more.

Burberry, A Touch of England, Mall of America
Burberry, A Touch of England, Mall of America

I flew into Minneapolis St Paul  where The Radisson Blu shuttle car picked me but you can also use their excellent light transit system which links The Mall, the Airport, Minneapolis and St Paul. To me this is a real bonus. Coming from a big city where we are used to the metro this offers you a hassle free way of getting around. You can have a drink, do not need to worry about Satnav and you get to see some scenery.

Radisson Blu Mall of America 2100 Killebrew Drive Bloomington, MN 55425 952-881-5258

Outside the US, The Canadians visit the most, but after that The British, Koreans, Scandinavians and more recently the French have found favour with the state’s tax free shopping policies…. Strange that mmmm

The Mall has introduced “The Enhanced Service Portal” which will strengthen the connection between guests, retailers and Mall of America by making shopping experiences easier than ever before,” The interesting feature for travelling guests is you can begin interacting with the ESP team before arriving at Mall of America by reaching out to ask about driving directions, parking or events.

Stars & Stripes T-Shirt - Mall of America
Stars & Stripes T-Shirt – Mall of America

Once on-site, ESP will help guests with any number of needs, from basic requests like bag checks and information about specific retailers, to more personalized needs, like dining and shopping recommendations. Guests most frequently connect with Mall of America via social media, phone and texting, really useful tools to have access to prior to your visit, especially if you have limited time. For the luxury consumer this also offers concierge who will, as needed, meet with guests in- person.
During these face-to-face interactions, this concierge will not only address the stated needs of the guest, but also may inquire into plans the guest has for the rest of the day and offer relevant recommendations and services.
ESP was piloted in September and October before its full launch this week, in time for the holiday shopping season.

Interior of Mall of America
Interior of Mall of America

As I know you all like to have a plan
This is The Gentlemans Butler, Mall of America plan of action
So if you had 24 hours “let’s go crazy”…..another mighty fine link Mr Michael…. (Song from Prince from the equally mighty fine album Purple Rain…DUDE… which has just had its anniversary …

Go with Children or to be precise Teenagers….. now let’s be clear here …I just mean if you have children then I think it’s a pretty good place to go with them…..and they may just think DAD can be cool …well maybe…..

So after a lovely sleep at the Radisson Blu

Radisson Blu, Mall of America
Radisson Blu, Mall of America

 

• Breakfast 9-10 get yourself a hit list of what you want to buy – FireLake Grill House at Radisson Blu Mall of America. I am a big fan of breakfast and have eaten a whole variety of options there, all put together by Chef Paul Lynch
• Buy yourself a big suitcase
• 1000-1200 – HAVE FUN, shop and do your Christmas Shopping, plus think about presents over the year for friends and family….particularly that means you BOYS….yes it’s a great way of reducing that last minute panic and avoiding another last minute and probably not very good present.

The Butler and the Bear - Cremps - Mall of America
The Butler and the Bear – Cremps – Mall of America

TEEN EXTAVANGANZA, time probably for Mum and Dad to pretend they can be cool and yes you THE CHILDREN to probably pretend they’re not there…. It’s time to be COOL…Regardless of age…
• 1200-1300 -THE FUNFAIR in the middle of a massive Shopping Mall means ACTION… Go KIDS….Go get yourself a pass and DAD please don’t embarrass me!! And please do not pretend you are JUSTIN BIEBER!! ….Click here for attractions

Funfair Mall of America
Funfair Mall of America

• 1300 – 1345 – LUNCH – CHOICE of TONS but you could try Famous Dave’s Bar-B- Que, very friendly, yes you might find this a shock if you are coming from the UK (- DAD CAN READS ABOUT ALL THE FACTS ABOUT THE MALL OF AMERICA and there are loads. It is basically a town in its right. DAUGHTER CAN TALK WITH MUM ABOUT WHY WE HAVE TO LISTEN TO DAD!!
• 1345 – 1545 – SHOPPING PART 2 – Go back to the stores. This time act. From your morning session where you have made notes using a plan of THE MALL so you remember where to go but the items you were interested in.
• 1545 – 1715 DAD and SON hops off for 90 minute extravaganza to the FOOTGOLF PARK – MUM and DAUGHTER do BARBIE…

Footgolf Bloomington
Footgolf Bloomington

• GROUP FAMILY POW WOW …..no we are not the BRADY BUNCH (gosh that shows my age)

Barbie at Mall of America
Barbie at Mall of America

AND YES MUM & DAD there is a WEDDING CHAPEL where you could renew your vows….sorry this can only happen in the US and it’s just by BARBIEland….

TOP GB STORES to crash, isn’t that the right lingo…..

Michael’s Top Tips

– Take DAD to Nordstrom’s. It’s very civilised and though not shouting I’m cool actually has some pretty good stuff. I particularly liked their jean and shoe combo..

Smart Gents Jacket - Nordstrom
Smart Gents Jacket – Nordstrom

– Mix and match – Nordstrom’s, hammer, moods of Norway,

Rugged Chic - Jean look - Nordstrom, Mall of America
Rugged Chic – Jean look – Nordstrom, Mall of America

– Rugged chic – You are in an area that gets cold and people work and are active outdoors so try Carhartt .Think about using one or two key pieces to give you that “I know what I am doing look” even if you are glued to your computer all day long and have never been under a car bonnet in your life”

Carhartt, Warm Jacket, Mall of America
Carhartt, Warm Jacket, Mall of America

– Think American sport which is very much on the rise. Minnesota Vikings Locker Room and Minneapolis which is building a new stadium will be hosting the superbowl in 2018
Moods of Norway. Very hip “Happy Clothes for Happy People”

Moods of Norway - Mall of America
Moods of Norway – Mall of America

– And Hammer Made  a brand which is expanding and looks very suave with some dark blue jeans and English brogues. They also do tailoring and alterations.

Hammer Made shirts - Mall of America
Hammer Made shirts – Mall of America

By early evening you will be probably pretty done in, so I suggest the Kids go upstairs in The Mall to catch a movie and just get to CHILL for a bit…
Mum & Dad head to The Radisson Blu to experience some SPA ACTION…
It’s a lovely spa and the hotel has a pool as well. The staff are some of the most friendly I have met so let them do the work and switch off for a bit.

Solimar Spa at The Radisson Blu, Mall of America
Solimar Spa at The Radisson Blu, Mall of America

About 8pm head to the FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar at The Radisson Blu for Dinner

 

Fireside - Radisson Blu - Mall of America
Fireside – Radisson Blu – Mall of America

Depending of your ages you can always head for a beer at Hard Rock Cafe which closes at 1000 and 1100 on Fridays and Saturdays.
To conclude I know the US is a big old place as one very famous Hollywood movie said it’s a Big Country, well it certainly is….

I fell in love with this big country when I was young, predominately because of the people and I can say my stay in Bloomington certainly rekindled my affection.

I had a good mid-west welcome and if you have an English accent you may, just may just may get a flattering comment or two!!

Embrace the differences and enjoy.

For extra fashion and style advice have a look at two real connoisseurs

Sara Rogers, Trend Specialist for Mall of America

Allison Kaplan, Fashion Editor & trend expert

For more information about Bloomington please go to the official visitors site www.bloomingtonmn.org, or call 08456 020 574 (UK)

Please do read this to give more details about booking luxury shopping trips to any destination we have covered.

 

DID YOU KNOW

• #1 Tourism attraction in the United States
• 27 rides and attractions in Nickelodeon Universe®
• 32 Boeing 717s could fit inside the Mall
• 450+ events are held at Mall of America each year
• 520+ stores are located in Mall of America
• 5,000+ weddings have been performed at Mall of America
• 30,000+ live plants and 400 live trees climbing as high as 35 feet tall in Nickelodeon Universe
• 32,000+ tons of trash recycled each year
• 170,000+ Legos have been lost in the LEGO play area
• 40 million visitors annually
• There is no sales tax on clothing in Minnesota
• Barbie™ The Dreamhouse Experience®: A 30,000 square-foot exhibit bringing the iconic Barbie® Dreamhouse® to life for Barbie® fans of all ages.
Theatres at Mall of America®: A 14-screen theatre featuring digital projection, D-BOX motion seating, a 21+ theatre and STARBAR lounge.
Head down to a lovely big local breakfast. Talk to the staff who can introduce some local Minnesotan delicacies.

 

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