Here's the Scoop: Jan. 21, 2009

Let’s hit the mall...but not really
Over the course of our lives, we’ve all seen news reports about a great, but seemingly simple concept/invention, and exclaimed, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
There’s also the more regrettable line, “I was going to do that!”
Then we wonder if the person who actually did get credit for following through on this idea will loan us a few million dollars because, well, it was merely our laziness that allowed them to strike it rich.
The other day I read about an “invention” that, I think, will not catch on with the general public. I could be way off the mark, though. Wouldn’t be the first time.

Is it a mall?
It seems that someone thought it would be smart to create a “Virtual Mall.” I’m not sure if this idea exists on the Internet yet — I Googled it and found plenty of “wanna be” virtual malls, but not the item about which I had read.
The Virtual Mall items that came up during my brief search just showed a bunch of items of pretty much every kind — more of a Virtual Walmart — without the Smiley faces.
The VM (I think I’ll trademark that abbreviation and make a few million myself), that I read about is going to literally mimic a real mall. When people go online, they wouldn’t merely click on, say, Eddie Bauer and get linked to that store’s Web site. No, the VM would take them past countless other stores, just as if they were walking in an average mall.
My guess is the “reality” of the situation would bring “shoppers” past large numbers of teenagers hanging out, lots of non-teens wearing too tight outfits and a decent sprinkling of babies crying in strollers.
Then, when the store of choice is reached, shoppers would actually “walk” the aisles in whatever stores they entered. The big sale items would be placed right up front to draw folks in and then they’d work their way around the store to find the pricier stuff they really want.
I’m sure bad music is part of the picture, too.
Does this sound like fun to you?

Dedicated mallies
I’m guessing that real mall fans — Or is that fans of real malls? — would find the VM interesting.
The drawback that I see is that, well, people are impatient. I don’t think I’m alone in getting frustrated when a Web site merely takes too long to load. I’m thinking a lot of folks won’t exactly welcome the idea of dodging VM shoppers, waiting on make-believe lines and taking those long, scary trips to the bowels of the mall to go to the restroom.
The good news is that shoppers at the VM probably never have to be called back into the store after setting off an alarm because the clerk has forgotten to remove the anti-theft tag from their purchase.
And what about the food court? The VM provides no opportunity for shoppers to get a real taste of how cattle feed — in a confined area, with lots of noise and food guaranteed to fatten you up in a hurry. Disappointing.
Then, of course, the VM experience also lacks the mid-afternoon Cinnabon visit to revive tired shoppers with a caffeine jolt and a high-calorie, gooey pastry to ensure hours more of shopping. The great thing about such snacks is they boost one’s energy so much for a brief period that shopping must continue — because it can’t be safe to drive under such a caffeine/sugar combo.
Well, it’s Virtually Impossible to get me to visit a mall “just for fun.” So, I doubt if I’ll be very interested taking a VM tour anytime soon — no matter how much of an urge I have for a new pair of tube socks — that will arrive in 5-7 business days.