2012 update: This blog post was originally written in 2009. I was planning on making a return visit to this mall to re-photograph it (as I lost most of these pictures), but a reader informed me that they’ve painted over all the murals with boring blah brown paint. Luckily, I found someone (This Public Address on Flickr) who photographed this mall in 2006 and he agreed to let his photos appear on this blog! (those photos are noted as such)
It’s a proven concept that people go bonkers for places that have shit all over the walls. Just look at your average Applebee’s and TGIFridays. The parking lot is usually busy and on Friday nights, the wait list can get up to 45 minutes to get a table. The food isn’t very remarkable, so it can’t be the menu. It’s gotta be the visual interest element. People are obviously coming because there’s a tire hanging from the ceiling and a leaf blower glued to the wall.
So why not apply that theory to a shopping mall?
This little-known Twin Cities treasure did just that, but judging from its exterior, you’d never know it. Located off of Lexington Avenue and Hwy 96, the Shoreview Village Mall looks like your average strip mall from the outside: an oversized parking lot, boring stores, a smattering of empty storefronts, and “Space Available” signs. Blah and BLAH. Not a whole lot going on here right?
Slow your roll — it’s a foil. Don’t let the vanilla exterior fool you. Much fun lurks inside! Because someone turned this mall into an arts & craft project.
On the walls inside this shopping lair lies a 19th century-style village brought to life, mural-style, catching off-guard shoppers by surprise. An overwhelming — almost dizzying – Victorian-era mural hits you the minute you walk in the door, making you yearn for a Magic Eraser.
No matter where you go inside this mall, the wall paintings follow you. The mural runs throughout the entire mall, capturing that “Ye Ole Towne” charm & excitement with a vignette of happy townspeople wearing frilly dresses and overcoats, cobblestone roads, loony innkeepers, rolling hills, and lush vegetation. It takes you back to the “good ole days”, when children worked in unsafe factories, hammering away at the soles of shoes until they fainted. Back when the village idiot would be hung in the town square while the townspeople watched with glee. The days of the Bubonic Plague! Gosh, I’m cheery today.
The mural is intertwined with the mall tenants. For example, at Meister’s Bar & Grill, the mural depicts a gang of inebriated males drinking ale and toasting the town. The benches, potted plants, fake flowers hanging from the ceiling, and plastic tree stumps are strategically-placed, giving the artwork a 3-D effect. The artist did a nice job showing The Good Life, but should’ve done a real period piece by adding a headless horseman, a toothless wench in a tight dress with her boobs spilling out of the top, and a scary troll hiding under a bridge to the montage. And then throw in Jack the Ripper for good measure. Then again, Shoreview Village Mall is a shopping center, not a haunted house. Still would’ve been cool though.
So what’s all in this place, besides the creepy artwork? It houses your average strip mall tenants: A dry cleaners, a dance studio, chiropractic office, Snyder’s, Subway, Hallmark, and so on. There’s also a few places to eat: Wok Cuisine, Subway, an ice cream & coffee place, a pizza place, and a German bar.
A Fresh & Natural Foods anchors the mall, which is great if you like eating grass. This grocer used to be a Jubilee. As far as other former tenants, I really don’t know of any, other than one of those eBay “I’ll sell it for you” shops like on The 40-Year Old Virgin and my dentist’s old office.
This mall didn’t always have such creative flair. Until 2002, the Shoreview Village Mall was your typical quiet strip mall with flat color walls free of any drawings of butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. It was built in 1982, but I never visited this place until sometime in mid ’90s. My dentist moved his office to the Shoreview Village Mall in the ’90s (creatively named “Shoreview Mall Dental.” Clearly the work of an imaginative individual). I remember this mall always being creepy, dark, and dingy, and because I associate this mall with going to the dentist (never a pleasant experience), I think of bitter “bubblegum” flavored fluoride treatments, and gritty “berry” flavored toothpaste whenever I drive by this mall.
Dental memories aside, this mall was always pretty dead, so in 2002, the mall owner poured money into this puppy to revive the sad shopping venue to win shoppers & retailers back. The exterior got a face-lift, but what could be done to perk up the inside?
Why, hire a local artist to draw painted lady rowhouses all over the walls and the fun will create itself! Of course.
The owner must’ve been high as a kite when he made that decision. Or perhaps he got the business idea straight out of the pages of Harold and the Purple Crayon and took the concept (if it doesn’t exist, draw it) a bit too far. Since no one is coming to this mall, we will DRAW people in the mall!
Did it work?
…Well, what do you think?
No, it just made the mall creepier.
I suppose it could’ve been worse — they could’ve went with macaroni art or Spirograph. Or put up velvet paintings of dogs playing poker WITH Elvis and Jesus and James Brown and–AND–AND!!! Have Michael Jackson ghost-moonwalking on the table!
Or did the mural Simpsons-style.
Wait, no. A Simpsons-style mural would’ve been wicked cool.
ThisPublicAddress has 51 photos of this mall in his Flickr set – check it out!