Is a Mall Right for You?
As someone who has never been Neopia’s best gamer, a well-stocked shop has long been my best source of income. While it may seem straightforward, keeping your store well stocked is hardly as simple as it may seem at first. When it comes to your shop, you have so many options, from who to hire as your shopkeeper to how big you want your shop to get. You can even choose a theme for the items that you stock. There is also another option that many may not consider: whether or not to join a mall. It can be a difficult decision to make, so consider these things before committing.
Do you like community?
Community is a big part of most Neopian malls, so keep that in mind before you join. In all my years on Neopets, I only recently joined a Mall for the first time. For me, it was because I was enjoying working on my shop and wanted to join a mall that would help me grow and develop my shop. In the process, I also found myself with a community that I could call my own. There are many benefits to joining a mall, but one of the more exciting ones is the sense of community. Hypertext_godess1999, a member of the popular Faerie Malls said “Not only do I feel like I'm a part of something, but that I truly do belong in that something, and I feel very welcome.” Iamnotacupcake, the leader of Faerie Malls also said that she “loves the community” that has grown around the mall. Many malls will have a chat board, so it might be a good idea to have a chat to some members before you send in your application.
Are you willing to meet requirements?
Many malls have size and activity requirements, which can be difficult if you don’t have a chance to get online often. The main requirement you will come across, other than size, is that you keep your shop relatively well stocked at all times. Some malls may be stricter than others, but you’re unlikely to find a mall leader who is happy with a shop that is consistently near empty. In a training mall, you may be required to expand your shop a number of times each month. If you do join any mall, make sure you are completely aware of any requirements that it may have so that you don’t break any rules inadvertently.
Malls often have expansion requirements, so keep that in mind if you would prefer to keep your shop to a smaller size. If you want to expand your shop, however, this can be a great thing. Hypertext_godess1999 said that, for her, joining a mall was a way to learn: “The reason I joined a mall was because the branch I found (the Sisterhood) was not only for small shops, but for unsure shops. I didn't want to join a mall; I wanted to learn what it was like first.”
Do you want to have a theme or would you prefer to be a general shop?
Another thing that a mall may require is that you select a theme of sorts. The purpose of large malls is for shops within a particular network to encompass all types of items. One shop may stock books only, while the next shop may be made up of quest items only. While some malls may include a ‘general’ shop, it’s unlikely that they will be willing to have more than one. Before you join, make sure you think about what is right for you. Consider what Neopian Shops you enjoy, and have success, restocking in, because once you commit to a theme, you will spend a lot of time there.
You may find that some malls have leeway with theme requirements. This may allow you to include items outside of your theme for the purposes of making money off dailies or other items you come across. If you do join a mall that has flexibility, make sure that you don’t go outside of the limit.
If you aren’t sure whether a theme is right for you but do want to join a mall, consider being a little creative. A loose theme may be the right thing for you. A ‘seasonal’ theme would encompass various holiday or season appropriate items, from books, to food, to clothing. There is benefit in this type of theme as many seasonal items cost less at different times of the year. One of the difficult things is that it can be tricky to find these types of items in the Neopian shops. If you do decide to go with a seasonal theme, consider keeping off-season stock on a side account. You could also try a creative theme centred around a particular colour or object, like you would do with a gallery. Something like this has a lot of scope and will allow you to restock in most shops around Neopia.
A theme is probably the most important aspect of your shop as you join, and are a member, of a mall, so it is really important that you pick one that you enjoy and that you feel may be profitable, as you will likely be committed to that theme for quite some time. A junk shop may seem like a great thing right now, but it might not be as attractive in three months' time once you have cleaned out your SDB.
Do you have the time?
You may not realise this before you join, but joining a mall will really mean that you need to dedicate a lot of time to working on your shop. Not only will you have to restock, snipe, price, and promote, but you have to keep upgrading and working on your shop. It can be time consuming, especially when you are busy, so it probably isn’t the right thing for you if you barely have time to do your dailies. The biggest benefit of malls, at least at the moment, is the community, so you also have to spend time chatting with your fellow mallers. It’s not for everyone, and that’s okay.