Mall of America: the facts

  • Article by: JOHN EWOLDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 22, 2001 - 11:00 PM

Sprawl of America, Megamall, Mall of Hysteria or just plain MOA. People may resort to a variety of nicknames for the Mall of America. The mall attracts more visitors to its 525 stores annually than Disney World, Graceland and the Grand Canyon combined. So you may want to have a plan when visiting the mammoth shopping and entertainment complex. Get a map at one of four guest centers. Any store employee should be able to point you to one. The main stores at the four corners - Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Nordstrom and Sears - can serve as reference points when you need to get your bearings. To locate a store, find the two anchors that it's between. For example, Oshman's Super Sports USA is in the West Wing between Macy's and Nordstrom, denoted W340 (W for west, 340 indicating third floor) on the map. If you're at one of the four guest service desks, you can buy a coupon booklet ($10) for savings at restaurants and 100 stores. Wheelchairs, electric convenience vehicles and strollers are also available at the desks. Here's a list of stores with an eye for selection, uniqueness and bargains. . Anchors Bloomingdale's (southeast corner, 952-883-2500). A good selection of high-end designer merchandise. Open a Bloomingdale's charge and get 10 percent off most purchases. Macy's (southwest corner, 952-888-3333). Scour the back walls for clearance racks where discounts of 50 to 75 percent are tucked away. Nordstrom (northwest corner, 952-883-2121). Best known for its selection, especially in its shoe departments, where the hard-to-fit can walk away happy. Sears (northeast corner, 952-853-0500). Generally, a bargain in every department. . Gifts and souvenirs In The Afternoon (S290, 952-854-7554), shopper Sarah Seiling of Woodbury was overheard saying to her friend, "I could buy everything in here." Call it funky, artsy, unusual, fun and, yes, somewhat expensive. It's the place to find cards, home accessories and accent art. Liten Hus (S280, 952-858-8256) is a Scandinavian gift shop. Department 56 (N300, 952-854-8000) is a collector's dream, with full lines of Snow Babies, Storybook Villages, Dickens Villages and others. There are four Mall of America gift stores that sell mall as well as Final Four merchandise. In addition, the Snoopy Shop (near the Ferris wheel in Camp Snoopy, 952-883-8630) has the largest selection of Snoopy merchandise in the country. Currently, orders are being taken for 6-inch-tall versions of the Peanuts on Parade statues ($16 to $25). Lake Wobegon USA (E350, 952-854-3795) strives to be "above average" with Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion" collectibles and Frank Lloyd Wright home accessories. . Sports In Field of Dreams (E160, 952-858-9331), the price of fame is clearly marked, including a Larry Bird jersey ($700) and signed movie posters ("The Empire Strikes Back," $600). Oshman's (W340, 952-854-9444) is the biggest sporting goods store, with basketball and racquetball courts, a boxing arena, a golf simulator and skating floor. . Specialty stores NASCAR fans, Crazy About Cars (E246, 952-854-9192) is your pit stop for die-cast metal models. Or you can drive the life-size version in simulated races at NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedway (S352, 952-854-7700). Magnetic Attraction (N132, 952-854-8918) sells scores of refrigerator magnets, from $2 to $10. Need a John Deere bath rug, pronto? Where else but at Al's Farm Toys (W370, 952-858-9139), where John Deere anything is popular, along with Mary Moos collectibles and Breyer horses. Sampling is encouraged but we took the manager at her word when she raved about the bestselling pickled garlic at the Garlic Shoppe (W326, 952-858-9696). Mary Engelbreit (W160, 952-854-8860) sells the artist's illustrations emblazoned on everything from teapots to clothing. Wild Bird Store (W372, 952-854-5485) specializes in bird feeding and related products, including a squirrel-distracting "Squngee toy," a bungee cord with a corncob on the end ($14). There's always something in the air at Air Traffic (W365, 952-858-9599) with its kites ($35 to $400), boomerangs, yo-yos, golf discs, rockets and juggling accessories. . Bargains The Nordstrom Rack (W324, 952-854-3131) is the best outlet store in the Mall of America. The only dollar store remaining at the mall is the Dollar Tree (E336, 952-854-1498). At the Abercrombie and Fitch outlet (N306, 952-851-9463), clothes appear overpriced and the markdowns modest, but throngs of fresh-faced shoppers haven't noticed. It's always a mob scene. Shoe stores are popular at the mall. DSW Shoe Warehouse (W124, 952-876-0991) sells name-brand shoes at discounted prices every day. The best deals are found on clearance racks at the rear of the store. If amusement park rides are on your itinerary, buy a wristband for $22 that allows unlimited rides for a day at Camp Snoopy (952-883-8500). . Newer Rand McNally (E139, 952-814-4401) stocks more than 200 maps of U.S. cities and states. Wisconsin Travel Information Center (W125, 952-814-9818) promotes the good life among Cheddar-heads. The trendy Hugo Boss (W135, 952-883-0250) and its sister store Boss (N106, 952-854-0302) have the best selection of the red, black, orange and green labels for men and women. Other venues new within the past six months include Swarovski Crystal (N288, 952-853-2130) and Jillian's Hi Life Lanes (E401, 952-854-1128), a high-tech bowling alley with 150 simulation and video games. . Coming soon: General Mills Cereal Adventure, a walk that shows you how cereal is made. . Mall of America Number of stores: 525. Phone number: 952-883-8800.

Entertainment: Camp Snoopy theme park, Lego Imagination Center, Underwater Adventures aquarium, Jillian's Hi Life bowling, General Cinema (14 movie screens). Web site: http://www.mallofamerica.com

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