One of few tour spot in Alberta, other than mountains and snow, would be the West Edmonton Mall which is one of the largest shopping malls in North America located in Edmonton, Alberta. It’s known locally as WEM.
There might be other shopping mall with ice rinks, midway rides, water parks, movie theaters, shooting ranges, and department stores, but what makes the WEM different is, this place has all the above-mentioned including over 800 stores, 100 eating places, and 2 hotels. It is now 14th largest mall in the world based on its size, however, it used to be the largest in the world when it was built in 1984 until 2004, and it still is the largest in Canada.
I had a chance to talk about this mall with one Albertan and I mentioned that Korea recently opened the biggest shopping mall in the world. But when we searched the internet, it somehow didn’t show up on the list of the World’s Biggest Shopping centre where WEM is ranked in. So we searched by its name “Centum City”, It showed up on the list of “The World’s Largest Department Store.”
<Sign says “The World’s Largest store according to the Guinness Book of World Records”.>
Why this happen? Because Korean has different ideas for shopping places from what North American has. According to the Google Dictionary definition of “mall”, a shopping mall (or center) is a large building or series of connected buildings containing a variety of retail stores. In Korean, we would use the word “Market” to refer to a Shopping Mall, as a grouping of various retail shops inside a single structure. Examples which come to mind include Minrak Sashimi Center (famous raw fish market & restaurant where you can buy and eat in a same place) or Bosudong Used Book Alley.
<Local Grocery Market: Can you see the raw fishes on the right side?>
In South Korea, “Department Store” would be the closest concept to a shopping mall in North America with ideas of modern building design, pre-planned construction site, having various price range of items provided by big supply chain company, from Luxury brand such as Prada, Gucci, to local factory made clothing, the main difference being that a mall would include a collection of retailers, rather than a single retailer represented by the Department Store.
Both are many similarities, such as the fact that Korean department stores are typically located in a high traffic location, and North American shopping malls are often connected to a public transit center as a landmark of the city or town.
This Department Store “Shinsegae Centum City (신세계 센텀시티)”, is 14 floor high with 2 Basement floors, and it is connected to another department store building, called Lotte Department Store, which makes this mall as the Mecca of Shopping, is very different in layout compared to the typical North American mall, which is one or two or rarely 3 or more stories (Edmonton City Centre, Eaton Centre, Toronto) Even Costco in Korea has multiple floors including in-building parking. This is understandable when one considers that South Korea has much higher population density, and real estate costs are much greater. For example, South Korea has average 501 people per square km while Canada has only 3.7 people per square km according to 2011 Census.
In the Shinsegae Centum City Dept Store complex, each floor has different consumer product category. For example, cosmetics and luxury on 1st, electronics on 7th, food court on 9th. So it’s find-a-floor, instead of find-a-section to shop any particular item. Other than retail stores, the building also has entertainment facilities such as movie theater with 10 screens, approx. 8,000 ㎡ size of spa, ice link, Golf range, sky lounge with a ocean view, etc. Interesting thing is, most of department stores in Korea uses Basement 1st as a food market in common, with various famous food franchise chains, bakeries, traditional, import foods from all over the world.
I would advise, a day or two shouldn’t be enough if you are a serious shopaholic who is planning to travel to Korea.
Please use the following link to find more detail information for Shinsegae Centum City (신세계 센텀시티).