12.02.2010

A Bazaar Surprise

So I was browsing a Milwaukee newspaper and saw an article regarding one of the malls finding a new a anchor store. What drew my attention was that it mentioned that the mall was the largest mall in the state.

Wondering if I've been to this largest mall--I've been to maybe two of the malls around Milwaukee--I looked it up on Wikipedia. The wiki article said it had a twin mall, Northridge. I clicked.

Standard shuttered mall fare until the bottom of the article which is about the mall's future--it has been bought by Chinese interests and they're going to open the Chinese Mall of North America! Whoa!

And this was announced a year ago! Here's a report with video. They're planning on opening a mall full of Chinese companies to sell Chinese products.

My first thought was: that seems redundant and a little strange because our country already has no deficit of or contact with Chinese products.

My second thought was trying to visualize a typical Wisconsinite eagerly walking around a establishment of retail commerce other than a Walmart, Farm & Fleet, or Menards, let alone a foreign one. Cheese is among last things I'd think to combine with Chinese food.

My third thought relates back to the first and it's that if this happens, the truly major development is that Chinese products will be presented directly to us from Chinese companies with Chinese brand names, which is what I presume to be the whole point of it.

I think they will be going uphill. They'll have to overcome the reputation China conveys--they might be able to improve the mass-production/low quality perception, but there are much larger issues that they can't control like unease at being percieved as a rising international opponent or even their human rights issues, for starters--just to get to a neutral standing.

Outside of Japanese companies, the only common Oriental brands I can name off the top of my head are all South Korean (LG, Samsung, and Hyundai-Kia). Glancing at lists, Taiwan has several technology brands I recognize. I've heard of one from China: Lenovo.

All the articles I could immediately find on the mall, like this one, are all from a year ago and it was supposed to have opened in August.

I finally found this one from August which says that the project is still on as the AmAsia Center but the opening has been delayed until next summer due to visa snags. It is also revealed that the mall is to be wholesale oriented so it sounds like it will be more of a stationary trade show than a retail mall. I would imagine that is even better than a mall for Milwaukee and the state since such a place will draw from a much larger area, perhaps the entire Midwest if not further.

Of course, there may be ulterior motives for the project as a scheme to procure investor visas.