Seattle’s Northgate Mall, which had been losing business in recent years to more attractive venues such as Alderwood—its younger, sexier cousin to the north—has successfully fooled shoppers into returning after renovating only the most visible half of the shopping center.
The improvements, which took two years to complete, gave the westward interstate-facing portion of the mall a major facelift, giving it the appearance of a modern “lifestyle center,” without the actual cost of a true remodel.
Sarah Bonds, a Northgate spokeswoman is proud of the plan’s success. “You see, all we really did was spruce up the side that everybody sees as they’re driving by on I-5,” she explained, “but we only really added about ten new stores, and inside it’s basically still the same boring mall it’s always been.”
The interior and the east side of the mall remain virtually unchanged from their original worn-down, rat-infested state. However, the majority of unwitting shoppers enter the mall on the west side and spend up to fifteen minutes fighting for the limited parking facing the spruced up portion of the mall, so it is not until they get inside that they discover the disappointing truth.
The fancy-looking west face and manufactured scarcity of parking is usually enough to suppress the eventual cognitive dissonance in most shoppers, according to Bonds.
“It really fooled me into believing that the mall is actually substantively better,” said Maple Leaf area shopper Gene Inglewood of the pseudo- transformation. “I think they pulled a great con.”
Thanks to the fake life that has been breathed into the mall through the partial modernization, even a spat of recent gang violence has done little to deter would-be shoppers. Drug-dealing gang member Matt Page is a big fan of the change. “Da shoppers can keep da west side, and we gets da east side,” he said. “Dis is good, you know?”
“We’re laser-focused on hoodwinking the most people we can with the smallest amount of money,” said Les Morris, a public-relations manager for Simon Property Group. “One of our strategies, where it makes sense, is to spew a bunch of babble about ‘lifestyle components’ and ‘enhanced experiences’ when we have a decaying, lifeless property such as Northgate.”
Business is up thirty percent since the trivial work completed last November. Simon officials indicated that they are pleased with the results of the con, and intend to milk it for as much money as possible until the looming national recession finally catches up to the Seattle area.