Where there's a Weewoo, there's a way Circulation: 169,514,968 Issue: 293 | 25th day of Hunting, Y9
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The Mega Mall: Dos, Don'ts, Pros, and Cons

by lorien127


By now I'm sure most of you have encountered the scenario: you fly into a shop searching frantically for that one quest item. The shop page is loading very, very slowly, and every time you try to click on the item you want to buy, it eludes you by inching further and further down the page. As you scroll to the top to investigate, you ask yourself, "what's the problem?" Then, you see it: a giant, gaping banner for Neopia's newest mega-mall.

The mega-mall, where many shop owners band together and link their shops using one gi-normous banner, is what some Neopians are calling the rise of "corporate Neopia." With huge mega-stores popping up all over the place, what happens to the independent user? More importantly: should you jump on the bandwagon? The decision of whether or not to join, or buy items from, a mega-mall, can be a confusing one. Read on to learn some key information that might help you make a more educated choice as a shopper and a consumer.

Let's start off with the good news for shoppers: despite those slow-loading banners, mega-malls can save you precious time when you need to find something quickly. Being able to link to faeries, quest items, and medicine from one page can save you time searching for stuff on the Shop Wizard. The major drawback, however, is that most items in mega-mall stores are overpriced. That's right, I said it. Typically, in order to join a mega-mall in the first place, you must have a 200+ level shop that is constantly well-stocked. We all know how this works; cheap items will quickly fly off the shelves, so in order to keep a giant shop stuffed with items, the maller prices the items a bit higher than the cheapest on the Wiz. That way, they spend less time restocking. While mega-mall prices are generally far from unreasonable, the bottom line is that the Neopian consumer winds up paying more NP.

Another drawback to shopping at the huge chain malls is that, by purchasing items there, you're keeping those with lots of money filthy rich. A shop that has 67 Mau Codestones for sale probably means that the owner is doing fairly well. By making the snap decision to purchase from them, not only are you spending more of your own NP, but someone who needs the profit more and only has one codestone to sell may be missing out. It's just something to think about.

As for joining forces with a mega-mall as a shop-owner, here's what you need to know.

First of all, most (NOT ALL, but most) chain malls require that your shop be at least large enough to be seen in the Neopian Marketplace (i.e., Haunted Woods, Neopia Central, etc.). This typically means that you have to shell out the money to increase your shop size to at least 200 or above, which costs upwards of 2 million NP! While most mallers feel that this is "spending money to make money," it is a costly risk to take, and may take quite a lot of time. Second, by joining a mega-mall, you are submitting your shop for someone else's approval; if you fail to restock your shop often enough, or if your shop fails to meet the requirements set by your mall's "leaders," you can be kicked out! Some big chains also prohibit the use of any other banners or graphics aside from those promoting the mega-mall. Beware: you may not only be giving up your creative freedom, but also the freedom to sell what you want. Often, since you're only a tiny part of the giant mall, you are confined to selling what THEY need you to sell. If you already have a shop that specializes in gnomes and air faeries, great! If you don't, you'll need to completely overhaul and stock with what your mall leaders tell you to. Some malls encourage their users to eliminate "big ticket items" from their shops because they take longer to sell; stocking a larger quantity of smaller, "everyday use" items will result in greater customer turnover (i.e., more shop views, which result in more mega-mall banner views, and more business for the mall as a whole).

You may be asking yourself, "so why would I ever join a mega-mall??" Well, it's simple: NP. Most mallers claim that they make considerably more NP with a shop that is part of a mega-mall. And of course, there are great mega-malls out there to join, where you are supported and encouraged to maintain your autonomy and creativity. As long as you're willing to spend your time restocking instead of playing Pyramids for three hours, then you should be perfectly fine.

In summary, here are a few key points to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to join forces with, or buy from, a mega-mall. First, do you have the time to check the Shop Wizard? If you have an extra moment or two, search the Wiz to make sure you're getting the best price. Save your mega-mall purchases for convenience and spontaneous-purchase items (i.e., you see it and want it right then!). When you're on a quest, the mega-mall may be your best bet; when you're trying to find the absolute best price on an item and are not in a rush to get it, you're far more likely to find it for a better price in an independent shop.

Furthermore, if you decide to go for it and join a mega-mall, know who you're working for! Talk to other users in the mall and see what they have to say. Can you maintain your creative freedom? Can you sell other items in addition to those your shop specializes in for the mall? Will the mall allow you to join when your shop is at a smaller size, giving you time to increase to their minimum requirement? Get your questions answered, and don't be afraid to speak up. Good mall chains will support you, not stifle you!

Finally, make sure that whatever you choose to do, you're doing it because you want to! Don't allow yourself to be pressured or scared into joining a mall chain. You can still make a significant amount of money with an independent shop! If you want your shop to sell only Glaring Eye Wraps and Yellow Eesa Trees, then by all means sell them! Neopets should be more fun than work; if you remember this, then whatever your decision, it will be the right one.

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