A Mall Revolution

Shoppers’ World received some immediate good press.  

Reader’s Digest was amazed by what she called, “The biggest salesroom in the world.”  “Here a customer can drive up in a car, leave it at the filling station for gas, walk just a few feet to order anything from a lollipop to the furnishings for an entire house, see a movie or go to a beauty parlor, drive the car to the package pick-up station, then whisk down the road toward home in less time than would ordinarily be spent finding a parking space during the average shopping excursion in a big city.”

The Framingham News called Shoppers’ World, “A palace from another world.”  Soon the story had gone national. 

Carroll J. Swan wrote in Printer’s Ink that “A larger and larger percentage of retail volume will be done in centers like this [one].  Why? A big reason that this most modern of regional shopping centers is an immediate success is that it’s a pleasure to shop there.  It’s also the big reason why national advertisers have got to adjust their thinking to this new way of servicing the consumer”  The mall really hit the big-time when it was highlighted in spread photos in both January 1954 editions of Time and Life. 

Originality was not only seen in the Shoppers’ World design.  A number of increasingly popular trends in retailing were advanced in the new mall.  With a more ambitious attempt to move large numbers of shoppers in and out of stores, Shoppers’ World was far more reliant on what was still called “self-service” shopping.  

Shoppers’ World also quickly became heavily reliant on promotions. 

Hoping that those drawn to the mall to visit Santa or see an Eskimo dog show would stay and make purchases, the central green was in a nearly constant state of activity. In the early days, activities for children, including a small Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, and a boat ride were placed in the courtyard along with Santa Claus and live reindeer at Christmas time.  But over the years, the attractions seemed to become increasingly novel: Spaceship rides, autocross racing, circus trapeze acts, pie-eating contests, a fountain of lights called “Dancing Waters,” puppet shows and lots and lots of live animals were to be seen at Shoppers’ World.

The new mall also seemed to be something of a celebrity magnet as the site was a perfect stopping point for famous acts making appearances west of Boston.  Hopalong Cassidythe Lone Ranger, Rin Tin Tin and Rusty, Major Mudd, Frankie Guggenheim, Rex Trailer, and Flipper the Dolphin were all seen at Shoppers’ World in its first two decades.