Queu­ing for a slurpie? Who are these peo­ple?

CityPress - - News - ZINHLE MA­PUMULO zinhle.ma­pumulo@city­press.co.za MONDLI MAKHANYA mondli.makhanya@city­press.co.za

What is all the fuss about the Mall of Africa? It’s a near replica of Sand­ton City and, de­spite all the hype, ap­pears to be a ver­sion with fewer shops.

Ev­ery shop housed in the Mall of Africa, with the ex­cep­tion of a few firsts in the coun­try, are found in many other shopping malls that cater for up-mar­ket clien­tele.

On Fri­day, City Press spoke to some shoppers who said they were there for the open­ing spe­cials. They suf­fered long, snaking queues out­side re­tail stores such as Game in their burn­ing de­sire to get their hands on the “spe­cials”.

How­ever, there did not ap­pear to be much dif­fer­ence be­tween the al­leged “open­ing spe­cials” at these mega re­tail stores than what is con­tained in the weekly items on sale ev­ery­where else on most weeks. From Dion Wired to cloth­ing chains and fur­ni­ture shops such as Cor­i­craft, ev­ery­body has them.

But one thing Mall of Africa has that Sand­ton City doesn’t is space. It is a breath of fresh air for those who love Sand­ton City but suf­fer from claus­tro­pho­bia. While def­i­nitely not airy, the Mall of Africa’s layout is wide – with 18 rugby fields’ worth of re­tail space, ac­cord­ing to the de­vel­op­ers.

Most of that was crammed with shoppers this week, so if you don’t like crowds, give it a month be­fore you go.

The mall also con­tains 300 shops that cater to ev­ery­body’s taste. Whether you are look­ing for high-end cloth­ing or low-bud­get fash­ion, this mall has you cov­ered.

For those with deep pock­ets, there are a few firsts in South Africa, such as The Kooples, Ar­mani Ex­change, and Zara Home for homemak­ers who are not afraid to spend. The usual favourites among the mid­dle classes – in­clud­ing H&M, Wool­worths, Edgars, Mr Price, Tru­worths, Fos­chini, Cot­ton On, Mango and For­ever New – are all there.

The big­ger spenders are ad­vised to go straight to En­trance 5, where their likely favourites are housed. It has all the high-end de­signer shops you can think of.

Ei­ther by de­sign or as­tro­log­i­cal co­in­ci­dence, En­trance 5 will leave bud­get-con­scious shoppers gasp­ing when they see the likes of Ver­sace Col­lec­tion, Ar­mani Ex­change, Tiger of Swe­den, Hugo Boss and many more.

Some opened on Thurs­day and Fri­day, while others are likely to open their doors next week. Who are these peo­ple? This was the ir­ri­tat­ing re­frain of the ad­vert for one of the ma­jor banks more than a decade ago. It was one of those ear­worms that would still be play­ing in your head hours af­ter you had heard it.

I was happy when it was dis­con­tin­ued. But of late, it has come back to haunt me. It comes each time I see snaking queues of peo­ple – mainly adults – lin­ing up to be among the first to taste some new burger, ice cream or dough­nut that an in­ter­na­tional chain has brought to our shores. Not to get tick­ets for a rare mu­sic show or in­ter­na­tional sports event. Just munchies or slurpies.

This week, Gaut­eng’s busiest high­way was log-jammed as 20 000 peo­ple tried to be the “first” to get in­side Mall of Africa.

Who are these peo­ple? I asked that ques­tion many times this week, won­der­ing why any­one would waste their Free­dom Day stand­ing in line for an av­er­age cof­fee from Star­bucks. Or risk be­ing crushed in a stam­pede at a new mall so that you can buy some mildly dis­counted goods that you would prob­a­bly get at a sale else­where, if you looked hard enough.

As some­one pointed out dur­ing the week: Do those heav­ing masses bat­tling to get into Mall of Africa re­alise that it will still be there in a few years’ time?

Are the lives of the queu­ing lot so empty that this is the kind of boast they want to have un­der their belts? And one more thing: If you are the 3 582nd per­son to taste a new brand, are you still among the first? In­deed, who are these peo­ple?

IN­SIDE Thou­sands of on­look­ers and shoppers flocked to Mall of Africa when it opened this week

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