Mall of hyperbole

The National (from that other place of hyperbole, the UAE) runs an fascinating article (‘Mall of misfortune‘) about a desolated shopping mall in Dongguan in China’s Pearl River Delta:

The South China Mall which opened with great fanfare in 2005, is not just the world’s largest. With fewer than a dozen stores scattered through a space designed to house 1,500, it is also the world's emptiest - a dusty, decrepit complex of buildings marked by peeling paint, dead light bulbs, and dismembered mannequins.

[…] What sets the South China Mall apart from the rest, besides its mind-numbing size, is that it never went into decline. The tenants didn’t jump ship; they never even came on board. The mall entered the world pre-ruined, as if its developers had deliberately created an attraction for people with a taste for abandonment and decay. […]

It's odd to find a store with an actual person in it, like S-Square, a small, stylish clothing store with black-painted walls. Its 21-year-old shop assistant, Miss Chen, said business wasn’t so bad back when the mall first opened. Rent was then 10,000 yuan, but it's no longer collected. “We used to get lots of tour groups,” she said. “Now it's just student groups, and occasionally groups of factory workers, and they don't buy anything.” She gets “one or two” customers a day, and passes the hours reading magazines and sending text messages to her friends.

Miss Chen often sends texts to Miss Peng, also 21, who sits behind the cash register at Eyaya, an accessories shop that is just far enough around the corner to prevent the two ladies from chatting. “Our bosses say we could go into the corridor and yell down to each other,” Miss Peng said. “I usually just stare into space. Sometimes I get really sleepy and want to take a nap, but I get scared because at any time a customer could come in, and I might miss the only customer of the day.”

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