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Did someone say “shopping?”

the mall shopping centerphoto credit: Hans van de Bruggen

The holidays are coming up on us rather quickly, frankly I’m not sure where this whole year has gone but that is another topic. So today we are going to take a little “trip” away from our computer, yup, that means we all have to get dressed and head outside. I’m sure the fresh air will do us some good too!

The mall is an inspirational place; just as a magazine gave us lots of ideas for our blogs the mall does similarly.

Now here is the exercise:

  1. As I said to do this exercise you must first leave your computer and head out to the mall.
  2. Don’t forget to bring a notebook and pen if you are like me and if you are like everyone else in my family your iPad. (I still am a pen and paper kinda gal, I love looking back on my filled notebooks!)
  3. I live just outside of DC where there are a number of malls at my finger tips, but I realize this might be a little harder for those of you in rural areas but there has to be something near you, I hope… maybe even a Wal-Mart.
  4. When you get inside the mall or shop take a half hour to walk around and just observe…
  • Who is there? Who are they with?
  • What are they doing?
  • What are they buying?
  • How does it look like shoppers are make their buying decisions?
  • What are the retailers doing to get people’s attention and stand out?
  • What messages are the stores using in their marketing?
  • What colors are in at the moment? (other than the holiday decorations which have already gone up here!)
  • What other things are ‘chic’ or in fashion?
  • What type of sales techniques is the staff using?
  • What are retail outlets doing well? What are they doing poorly?

5.  As you watch, jot down some notes.

6.  Once you’ve spent half an hour or so on ‘observation mode’ find a spot to sit down with a coffee (perhaps a pumpkin spice late, or gingerbread late) and go over the things that you’ve noticed and see if there’s any lessons there that you might be able to apply to your blogging.

This process might seem a little random – but it’s something that I’ve done on a few times over the last few years and each time that I’ve done it I’ve come away with at least one new idea that I want to apply in my blogging and I am sure you will too.

Now do tell, what happened on your trip to the mall, and I don’t mean the new shoes that caught your eye…. However I am sure they are very nice!

About shelley

Shelley Kramm is the founder and editor of I'm Still Standing and The DC Ladies. Learn more about her and her inspirational family here and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ and on

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  1. Hmm I may get tempted to actually shop if I go to the mall lol. going to have to leave my credit cards at home!

    This is a great exercise though. A tip I find helpful is to look especially at the signs in the windows. While we don’t have actual windows on our blogs, we can hang “virtual” shingles.

    By the way, since we are on the topic of shopping (sort of), Small Business Saturday is coming. It’s on Sat Nov 26yh the day after Black Friday. I’ll be promoting my business and also supporting other small businesses. Since I don’t have a business blog I don’t plan to post a formal post about it but maybe you can Shelli?

    American Express has teamed up with Facebook to offer free advertising to small businesses. You can get all the details at

  2. Seeing as now it’s time for holiday shopping, I’ve been living at malls lately. There’s signage in the windows of all the stores, awesome decorating, and great prices. They leave little promotional postcards in with your purchases of coupons for future visits, which I think is a nice touch. When I have digital products available on my blog, I will definitely be sending out thank you coupons once someone has purchased something.

  3. I went to a new-to-me mall after I taught yesterday (and before I read this week’s challenge). I only discovered this mall because I was looking for a Barnes and Noble. So, even though I won’t answer your questions directly, I had reactions that I can use for my blogging…

    I LOVED this mall. The contrast between it and the one I normally go to really hit home for me when I had to stop at my “regular” mall for a quick errand on my way home from the other one. Even though this new-to-me mall is about 30 minutes further than my regular mall (which can take 40 minutes to get to), the extra time and gas would make it worth the trip.

    The new-to-me blog was…
    *Clean –>Is there enough “white space”?
    *Uncluttered –>Do I have unnecessary stuff/visual clutter on my blog pages? (I have a navigation bar above and below my name banner…I’ll have to consider how to reduce that visual clutter)
    *Easy to navigate signage –>Can newbies find everything they want easily? (If I get rid of one of the navigation bars, how can I ensure that everything is still easy to navigate)
    *Offered Nordstroms and Sears (e.g., different price points and target customers) –> Do I offer enough variety while still maintaining the mission of the blog?
    *Calm and soothing whereas the mall near me is always chaotic and loud (note: I live in an area where over 50% of the population are immigrants from Asia, Mexico, and South America so the mall has a street bazaar feel to it at times). –>Do my readers feel better/more positive after visiting my site?
    *Understated and elegant but still very personable–>I haven’t worked this one out yet

    The very first time I did this activity during 31DBBB, I had a terrible time gleaning anything from it because I went to the dreadful mall near me. Now I know it is because there is a mismatch between who I am and the mall near me. And that is a lesson right there…making sure that there is a good match between my blog and myself.

  4. Unfortunately, my community doesn’t have a formal mall. I may not be able to do this one without using some imagination.

  5. There are no in-door malls close to where I live, which I am very happy about as I usually feel closed in. We do have shopping centers, walking outside from one to the other, which I much prefer … well, except during the holidays. Everything feels overdone ~ too many decorations, too much signage, too much noise. I like simplicity ~ a little glitter here, something shiney there. I do believe Dr. JulieAnn said it perfectly.

  6. I’m actually trying to keep away from the malls this year and shopping online – especially trying to frequent small businesses like Michelle mentioned above.
    I visited a local crafters marketplace and noticed that their groupings were much more sophistacated this year. They grouped vendors by using similar colors and products that fit together. I was immediately inspired for a few holiday gifts after first being drawn to colors they grouped together.
    I gravitate toward sources other than a mall for inspiration – Etsy is wonderful. You can shop by color, location or my favorite = curated lists. There is a ton of inspiration to be found there. Pinterest is another fabulous way to window shop and this time of year there are multiple online collections or catalogs such as Gifted Magazine. Looking at Gifted has put ideas in my head about what I’d like to learn to do on my blog – it is incredibly eye catching. Sweet Paul has the same effect.
    I find myself uninspired by a mall but incredibly inspired by local artisans and online collections. I like to see what the really creative people are doing and that motivates me to push forward.