Getting cars into and out of shopping malls is a lot easier than it sounds

If you’ve ever been in a large shopping mall you’ve come across cars, trucks and SUVs parked in high-traffic areas as promotional vehicles.

Often they’re tied to vacation ownership-type companies or local car dealerships to get contact information or just to advertise the newest car.

But, how do they get cars into shopping malls in the first place?

Cars get into shopping malls as display vehicles by driving them into the mall when it’s closed. Most shopping malls have a set of doors at strategic locations that can open up large enough for vehicles or large pieces of equipment to drive through.

Car dealerships, vacation ownership companies and other organizations work with mall management to set up a time where they can open up said doors. Then, carefully, cars are driven into and out of malls at walking speed before they’re maneuvered into position.

How do I know this? I actually did it (well, sort of.)

Here’s how.

Driving cars out of my local mall

For several summers while in college, I’d spend my time as car porter for the local Lincoln-Mercury dealership.

Here’s one of a handful of photos I took while working. Sorry if it’s too grainy for you. Pretty sure I handed my LG Chocolate to one of the techs and said, “press the big red button.”

2009 was still a strong year for Ford’s other brands with a good-enough lineup. Here they are listed below for your edification.

  • Lincoln
    • Navigator
    • MKX
    • MKS
    • MKZ
    • Town car
  • Mercury
    • Grand Marquis
    • Mariner (and Mariner Hybrid)
    • Milan
    • Mountaineer
    • Sable

While that lineup might seem boring compared to other luxury brands, the Lincoln-Mercury dealership had such a long history and relationship with our town, they enjoyed a strong clientele of repeat buyers.

Getting cars into our local shopping mall, a key point of high traffic for the Lincoln-Mercury demographic, was key.

Normally, I’d start out my work day driving cars out of the service garage, emptying trash cans, and, if there were customers already waiting, driving them back home so I could drive the cars back for service.

This day was a little different. Our detailer grabbed me and told me, “Come on, Pablo. We’re going to Merced Mall to drive some cars out.”

As far as I remember, we all rode in a new Lincoln Navigator following the dealership owner’s son in an MKX.

These trips, including 90 percent of my day, did not feel like work!

We get to the back area of Merced Mall with these large barn-style glass doors are already open, ready for large cars to be driven out of.

Mall security was already there, facilitating the whole process.

I remember at least Two Lincolns and one Mercury were driven out of Merced Mall that day.

I was handed keys to a parked Mercury Grand Marquis.

Then, after the plastic display-placard was removed off the front tire, we all started up the vehicles and carefully drove out of the mall.

It’s a surreal experience driving cars past stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond and Work World. Cars weren’t meant for shopping malls yet, there I was, driving a $30,000 Mercury Grand Marquis where people are normally window shopping.

After exiting where we walked in, I drove back to the dealership to continue my day.

The next time you enter a shopping mall, look at how the doors are attached. You’ll probably find areas where hinges are placed to allow for a larger opening.

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