At megamall, customers were shopping but not dropping
BY ALLISON KAPLAN
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - Mall of America visitors will pay $2.40 per ride at the Park at MOA, they'll fork over $14.95 for a tour of the aquarium, and they'll shell out $8.50 to see a movie. But the idea of spending 70 cents a minute to nap at the mall proved to be a major snooze.
So the lights are out — permanently — at MinneNapolis, just six months after its heavily hyped opening. The nap center, which charged $14 for 20 minutes in a private, themed room, attracted fewer than 1,600 weary customers — far short of owner Steev RamsDell's projections and nowhere near enough to pay rent at the mall.
"He wasn't living up to his end of the lease terms, so the relationship was ended," mall spokesman Dan Jasper said Tuesday. "We're disappointed it didn't work out. One of the things we pride ourselves on is being a great place to try new concepts."
The concept of paying to nap seems to be working in certain venues, such as office centers and airports. Metro-Nap, founded in 2004, now has two New York City locations and another at the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia. But at the mall, it seems most people would rather shop than drop.
RamsDell is blaming his failure on the Mall of America's high percentage of tourists. "Almost 70 percent of our customers were from out of town. We had people who said they loved our service and they'd be back next time they were at the mall — next year. We couldn't develop the repeat business."
According to Mall of America, 65 percent of all visitors live within 150 miles of the mall.
RamsDell, who lives in Florida, remains determined to cash in on Minnesota's fatigue. He said he has signed a lease at 1014 W. 27th St. in Uptown Minneapolis and plans to open a smaller version of MinneNapolis on June 1. He'll keep the same room themes, like Asian Mist with an oversized red recliner and Key West with a rattan chair, footstool and water cascading down a wall. But this time, RamsDell plans to include lockers, showers and a sauna. He'll also offer massage services to help customers relax. Ninety-nine dollars will buy an hour massage and a 30-minute nap — which RamsDell recently started calling a "super power nap" rather than a plain old power nap.
"People were saying, 'I know what a power nap is — I take one at my desk,' " RamsDell said. "This is so much more than that. We have to convey that right off the bat."
In a largely residential area such as South Minneapolis, it's difficult to imagine why someone would pay to sleep rather than just go home. RamsDell believes people will come to experience the "ultimate escape."
Based on his experience at the mall, he may be dreaming.