Hear me out.
I had a dream last night.
It was fantastic. It was one of those dreams that makes you wish you had a bottomless bank account, so you could just jump out of bed and set about making your fantasy a reality.
I think my sleepy brain conflated the idea of the Harry Potter theme park at Universal and the shop and trolley at King’s Cross, and what it came up with was a Harry Potter themed shopping centre. This needs to exist. Now. Maybe even a whole chain of them. Here’s why:
1 – The Owl Emporium
You’re all familiar with build-a-bear workshops, right? They’re pretty cool, especially when you’re ten years old or a perpetual child like Peter Pan or, well, like me. In the Harry Potter shopping centre there was a build-a-bear style Owl Emporium. Floor to ceiling shelves were lined with unique owls. Hundreds of them. The accessories were little letter rings for their legs and cages, so you could take them to Hogwarts I guess. This is fabulous because a) it’s kinda like those robot dogs we were all obsessed with as kids - the owls are pets without the mess and b) You could send people their own personalised owl by owl post, à la The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s post office. What a perfect and vaguely meta gift that would make.
And if you don’t know anyone who would appreciate receiving a random owl in the post, complete with an authentic wizarding post office stamp, then you need new friends.
2 – The Book Shop
All theme parks sell overpriced merchandise to supplement the heavy entry fees, and some of it is pretty damn cool, but that’s not the point of this bookshop.
Sure, this place sells limited edition copies of every magical fiction worth reading, but its speciality is human magic – knowledge. The place is crammed with tomes on every human skill and expertise imaginable. Expert, passionate staff serve coffee direct to your squishy armchair while you pour over advanced biology. Or, you know, while you’re drawing dicks, whatever floats your boat. It’s more of a library in some ways, but it fosters a direct love of knowledge which is bound to boost sales. Anyway, they sell gallons of tea and mountains of cake,the recession can’t touch them.
3 – Live Performances and Artist’s Gallery
In the dream this bit involved my hilarious mate @adamtheblampied and the other chaps in The Beta Males dicking about making wizard jokes. I mean, it was awesome, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine the foyer as the hub of the shopping centre, with live shows three times a day. Comedians, musicians, theatre groups, every perfomative art form you can imagine – everything but magicians of course.
You know how conventions and theme parks have artists lining a street or a corridor? You find the best stuff in those places. The greatest, craziest fandom art you’ll find, and usually at affordable prices.
Point is, just as the book shop isn’t about buying super expensive editions of a handful of books, or just buying (very cool, but of limited intellectual value) real life versions of fictional texts (like this awesomeness), the artist’s foyer is about encouraging talent and appreciation of art amongst fans and the wider community. It’s got a higher purpose, y’all.
4- The Pub
Suffice it to say I could happily live out the rest of my days between the book shop and the pub. It smelt of honey and sweet wood fires.
5 – The Apothecary
Speaking of nice smells up your hooter, the apothecary would be heaven for anyone who’s ever held their breath while walking past a stinky cosmetics chain at their local shopping centre. It’s part homoeopathic stock room, part greengrocer, part beautician, and part tea room. It’s multi functional, it’s smelly, it’s more than a bit British, and full of “Ye Olde” hipsterish charm.
6 – Everything Else
Obviously you couldn’t have a Harry Potter themed anything without putting in Ollivander’s, the robes and brooms, the Three Broomsticks,the general theme park awesomeness.* The whole point of the shopping centre is that it’s a practical place which can be used constantly, but it’s also about having Orlando style magic on your doorstep.
*Yeah, I know how cost prohibitive theming can be, shhh, I was dreaming.
Remember this guy?
He is a dude, and we all kinda want to be him. What I’m getting at with this ludicrous shopping centre spiel is that we can be him. Science Wizard looks at the conservative wizarding status quo, shrugs, and does whatever he pleases. He throws himself into muggle learning because who cares what intellect-squibs like Mundungus think anyway, right?
OK, I’m over selling this and the above example doesn’t actually fit with what I’m trying to say, I just wanted to bask in Science Wizard’s glory for a bit. Theme parks are great destinations, but they’re just that – destinations, by definition not for everyday use. They’re expensive, they’re sometimes on the other side of the world, they’re EXPENSIVE.
A chain of themed shopping centres with cinemas, entertainment, dining and drinking, full of immersive, stimulating and practical experiences for the growing geek population, would be perfect, lucrative, and REALLY COOL.
Can we have one for every fandom please?*
*No, Hunger Games fandom, no, you can’t have one.