Rosemary’s husband refuses to open the credit card bill anymore, while Rosemary plots how to introduce her new purple satin Puma sneakers into the house without ever actually telling him that she bought them. Trying to overcome her weak will and stop buying things for herself, she delves into the “nosebleed section” of the 3rd level: Bead It!, Rybicki Cheese, and Al’s Farm Toys prove particularly challenging. Total spent: $446.57. Total returned: $417.96.
After some uncomfortable moments at Tall Girl, the Sunglass Hut provides Rosemary with the opportunity to explore her untapped potential as a glamour girl. The Prada sunglasses she buys take possession of her, and guide her purchases for the rest of the shopping trip. Fantastically sexy Mia sandals at Macy’s and seersucker shorts at the Limited can’t possibly prepare her for what’s in store at Abercrombie. Total spent: $700.06. Total returned: $695.80.
Rosemary struggles to find items fabulous enough for her alter ego, the Lady with the Prada Sunglasses. With a productive trip to H&M, a bag of dark chocolate truffles from Harry & David, and a moment of reflection on having never been a bridesmaid at Jessica McClintock, Rosemary reaches a major milestone: at the end of the day, she has made it one-quarter of the way around the Mall of America. She celebrates at Wolfgang Puck Express. Total spent: $674.09. Total returned: $577.81.
After a trip to the River Church to see what they’re up to, Rosemary buys her first pair of diamond earings, and then falls into a deep reverie regarding the meaning of the store name “White House/Black Market.” She falls in love for the first time at Local Charm. Total spent: $763.63. Total returned: $680.64.
Rosemary’s mom comes along for the ride, but ditches her as soon as they get to the Mall to go shopping for walking shoes. Even a black video ipod can’t get Rosemary going, as she resigns herself to one more boring day of shopping by herself. By the end of a very low-energy, negative, and disappointing day, she gets revitalized by her hatred of Limited Too, resolving to start buying things that represent our decrepit American consumer culture. Total spent: $1,227.48. Total returned: $1,189.26.
Rosemary is crabby again, but her efforts to expose the decay of American culture perk her up. After getting herself some well-needed new bras at Victoria’s Secret, she begins to explore the world of shallow materialism and bad taste. Birthday cake flavor spray at Le Gourmet Chef, a $110 Stella McCartney yoga mat at Paiva, and a gold lame bikini at Guess top the list for the day. Total spent: $776.18. Total returned: $511.96.
The third floor once again offers a potpourri of random experiences, with highlights at Nascar Motor Speedway and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. When Rosemary stumbles on the Chapel of Love, she becomes lost in deep contemplation of Minnesota’s five day waiting period for a marriage license, and the ramifications of that on the Chapel's ability to compete with Las Vegas as a wedding venue. She finishes her day basking in the golden glow of the paintings at the Thomas Kinkade Gallery. Total spent: $607.44. Total returned: $517.58.
Rosemary is having a fat day, and doesn’t feel like trying anything on. After purchasing a bag of chocolates at Lindt, she decides to buy a handbag at every store to avoid encounters with the mirror. In reaction to her great experience at Thomas Kinkade Gallery the previous day, she also resolves to have a conversation with someone in each store. She fondles the most beautiful writing instrument she’s ever seen at Paradise Pen. Total spent: $806.95. Total returned: $791.77.
Sick of handbags, and lacking focus, Rosemary tries to buy something at each store which will improve the quality of life for her and her loved ones. Keene sandals at the Walking Store for Keith, a bug jar at the Rainforest Café for Garrett, and a totally hot pair of Lucky Brand Jeans for herself seem to fit the bill. At the end of her shopping, she finds herself halfway around the Mall. Total spent: 841.17. Total returned: 642.18.
Rosemary can’t seem to get any momentum going on her first day in the second half of the Mall. Genuine fake diamonds at Diamonique, fashion tape at Glitz, and bath bombs at Basin all seem hum-drum, until she stumbles upon her find of the day: a shot shell toilet seat at Minnesot-ah! She sees her first good-looking man at the Mall at Johnston & Murphy. Total spent: $325.59. Total returned: $276.79.
Rosemary is completely, utterly sick of shopping. While an excellent parking space and a Hello Kitty waffle maker make for a promising start, she quickly gets beaten down by the bottomless kitsch of an endless supply of Minnesota themed stores. A discount Rolling Stones CD, an uninspired Swatch, and toy ray guns for the boys top the list of non-kitsch merchandise for the day. Rosemary is charmed by a velvet bag full of stones she buys at Outfitters. Total spent: $270.29. Total returned: $230.43.
Rejuvenated after hitting rock bottom her last few visits, Rosemary finds meaning today by shopping for the best value in each store. Successes for the day include five dollar sports bras at the Finish Line, socks for Evan with a one year guarantee against holes at Kids’ Foot Locker, and a ten dollar canvas bag at Bijou Bijou. Rosemary proves herself to be made of slightly weaker stuff at the Watch Station, where she purchases a $380 watch for Keith. She has her first flirtation with Gravis sneakers at Shi. Total spent: $772.89. Total returned: $738.24.
Rosemary discovers the unadulterated joys of pure oxygen at Oxynate, an oxygen bar on the 3rd floor of the Mall. Buoyed by waves of freshness, all she really wants to do is call everyone she knows and tell them about how awesome she feels. She forces herself to keep shopping, winding her way to Radio Shack, where, having lost all sense of propriety, she drops $580 on a Magellan Portable Auto Navigation System. Total spent: $705.67. Total returned: $640.49.
Depressed about the state of her finances, Rosemary begins her shopping today in a foul mood. Things start to look up at Vääse, where she buys a Chinese three-legged frog which the saleslady promises will bring her good luck and, more importantly, money. Her state of mind improves as she fulfills her dream of finally owning real beach towels at Marshall’s, experiences seven blissful minutes in an Aquamassage machine, and then finds a package of candy cigarettes at Sweet B. Total spent: $269.45. Total returned: $111.81.
Rosemary starts to have a little bit of fun today, for a change. She flirts with the idea of buying a $100 down pillow at Select Comfort, but settles for a $15 pillow cover instead; purchases a video surveillance system at Ritz Camera; and a pilates thingy to tighten up her abs at Champs. The only downer is Daniel’s Leather, where she gets locked into a depressing hard sell, and narrowly escapes – but without making a purchase or obtaining a bag. Total spent: $359.26. Total returned: $330.33.
Infuriated by a driver who cuts her off on her way into the mall, Rosemary is unable to shake off her fury. After eye-opening trips to QVC At The Mall and Build-A-Bear Workshop, she works her way through a fairly mundane bunch of stores. She faces down Sears and buys some camping gear, and finally relaxes over a sushi splurge at the end of the day. Her vibe is ruined again by a speeding ticket on the way home. Total spent: $235.26. Total returned: $149.67.
Rosemary’s friend Clea comes to the Mall with her, with cash in her pocket, ready to buy. She wants to go to stores Rosemary’s already shopped at, so Rosemary gives in and puts aside her “real” work for the day. Swept up in the joys of female bonding over shopping for perhaps the first time in her life, Rosemary scours H&M, DSW Shoes and Nordstrom Rack in search of bargains, flip flops, and that wonderful something that will change her whole world. Total spent: $77.81. Total returned: $29.87
Rosemary’s shopping trip starts out on a sour note when the fortune teller machine gives her a repeat fortune. She vows to stop visiting it, and she also vows to stop buying things for herself, and for her kids, who are getting ridiculously spoiled. Her resolve ends up in the toilet almost immediately, as she finds the pair of green Gravis sneakers at Journeys that she’d drooled over at Shi a few trips previous. Total spent: $363.65. Total returned: $276.68.
As Rosemary makes progress towards the end of her long journey, today’s visit to the Mall is a blur of pre-teen and teen girl crap. After discerning that Hollister is a clothing store and not a night club, and daydreaming about having a little girl at Claire’s Club, she ends her day at Club Libby Lu, where she witnesses the horror of little girls in lipstick and diamond tiaras. Total spent: $330.64. Total returned: $290.44.
Rosemary takes a trip to her pre-adolescent past in Spencer Gifts, but finds it filled with Miller High Life paraphernalia. Gingko Biloba at GNC, knockout brown satin pumps at Steve Madden, and Hummer brand cologne top the list for the day. Total spent: $259.46. Total returned: $155.24.
Rosemary hits the homestretch, with her last visit to the 3rd floor. Maneuvering through hipster kids’ shoes, another oasis of Moose-related paraphernalia, a flag store, and a Western shop, Rosemary demonstrates her well-earned shopping finesse. After the momentous occasion of completing the 3rd floor stores, she treats herself to new glasses at Pearle Vision one floor down. Total spent: $682.10. Total returned: $236.36.
On her second to last shopping trip at the Mall, Rosemary feels a strange mix of excitement to be done, and reluctance to finish, as she’s not sure what she’ll do with herself once this is over. After a fascinating discussion at Mobile Solutions as to their sales techniques, buying a bomber jacket at Abercrombie & Fitch meant for a teenager, and being sold expensive and inappropriate skin care products at Bare Escentuals, Rosemary ends the day with the realization that she has stolen two pens over the course of her shopping trip. Total spent: $609.56. Total returned: $586.14.
Rosemary starts her last day of shopping at the Mall by picking up her new glasses at Pearle Vision. Armed with her new fabulous look, she takes on a whole string of fancy stores. A gold lamé Puma gym bag and an embroidered brown velour track suit bring her shopping adventures at the Mall of America to a close. As she arrives back at her starting point in front of Nordstrom, Keith arrives to help celebrate. At California Café, overlooking the roller coasters of the amusement park, Rosemary and Keith toast to the end of her epic journey. Total spent: $1317.04. Total returned: $997.50.
Rosemary attempts to make meaning out of her whole adventure, with little success. She returns to the Mall of America to meditate on the problem, and hits sales at H&M, Nordstrom Rack and Banana Republic. She comes to the conclusion that the societal ramifications of shopping are complicated.
Each podcast is an audio journal of the events of one shopping trip. A new episode is available every two weeks. Rosemary's sculpture, "The Wall of Mall," can be viewed here.