In stream the other day, we started talking about an Avengers Mall AU, and now I can’t stop thinking about it, because I have so many years of bad retail stories built up in my head and non-powered AUs usually don’t work for me, but the longer I think about it, the funnier this gets.
Steve and Sam are two guys who retired from their military branches and teamed up to run an artesian bespoke candy shop. Steve has no idea half of their sales comes from the fact that Sam put the candy pulling hook in the front window and teenage girls just stand there, drooling. Sam is totally aware of this, and uses it to ALL his advantage when he’s doing the sugar work.
Bucky took a part time job at the Hot Topic across the way because hell, he was spending all his time hanging out with Sam and Steve, might as well get paid. He was the only reliable employee over the age of seventeen; he is now the manager and he’s FURIOUS about it. His staff is made up of Nico, Kamala and Sam Alexander and various people who get hired and then don’t make it through the training because Bucky glaring at you while you take register training is just SO HARD TO HANDLE. No one is sure if he’s after Sam or Steve or both.
The SHIELD crew runs a pretty decent mall restaurant, but yeah, used to be a Golden Corral and Fury reserves the right to yell “Do you see a buffet here?” at anyone dumb enough to think it still is. He doesn’t actually do it, because most of the people who are confused enough to ask are retirees who remind him of his grandma, but still. He reserves the right. Nat is a truly terrifying line cook, Maria’s front of house, and Phil’s the head waiter. Clint doesn’t actually work there, but he’ll put on an apron and belt out an impressive rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ in exchange for free food, and no one else on staff wants to do it, so he eats there A LOT.
Clint is always in the mall. In the back corridors. Hanging out in the food court. Wandering up and down the anchor store escalators. Everyone thinks he works somewhere else. No one knows where he actually works. There is a betting pool. It has been building for YEARS.
Jan runs the sort of high end boutique that has like, four outfits in two sizes on six gigantic racks. There are no prices. You do not ask how much it is. You know if you can afford it. If she likes you, you can afford it.
Thor runs the hardware store. No one knows why the hardware store is there. This is not the sort of place one would see a hardware store. Thor says he inherited it from his father, and it was there before the mall, and no one really wants to look into it. Mostly, they seem to get by on selling knives.. Big knives. Little knives. Knives as long as your arm. They get by on selling knives, because who’s buying screws at this place? Oh, right, anyone Sif TELLS to buy screws. "You need screws.“ "Oh, no, I-” "You can always use more screws.“ "Y-yes, ma'am.” She might be domming half of their customers without knowing it. The Warriors Three run the stock room. Badly.
Bruce runs the used bookstore down on the lower level where he can’t really afford the rent but the mall management like saying there’s a bookstore, and no one else is going to rent that hole, so he gets to stay, hiding in his piles and piles and piles of used books. Mostly science and history, but he does a brisk business in romance novels and murder mystery paperbacks. He likes it down there. He wishes people would stop trying to get him to come upstairs to socialize. He also kind of wishes people would stop coming down TO socialize. His cousin Jennifer runs the register and helps the customers most days, she’s very quiet and very mild mannered and wears very lumpy clothes and giant eighties style glasses, so no one recognizes her when she goes to her second job, as a crossfit instructor for the gym on the top floor. Jenn is, as they say, RIPPED. Put her in a leotard and her whole personality changes, it’s like she’s a different person.
Carol is a recovering alcoholic ex-pilot who runs the bar at the ‘bad’ chain restaurant down on the far end of the ground floor. Other than the SHIELD place or the food court, it’s the only place to eat in the mall, and honestly, you’d be better off in the food court. The food is trash, but she can mix a mean mojito and she knows every secret of every worker in the place, and she’s paid double on Saturdays because she’s her own bouncer.
Jessica Drew runs the arcade on the main floor, one of those stupid ones with 'glow mini-golf’ and games that constantly spit out tickets, you know, legalized gambling for children. It’s a chain, but the give out far too many prizes and she and her staff (Peter, Miles, Anya) would be fired if they also weren’t the highest grossing location on the eastern seaboard. They throw the best birthday parties in the state, and have a waiting list that’s like, months long.
Wanda’s shop sells… Something. No one knows what any of this stuff does. Or if it’s legal to own. But when you find something you want, OH GOD YOU REALLY WANT IT. She mostly sits and reads, and drinks tea from Hank McCoy’s tea shop.
Stephen Strange quit his job as a surgeon and retired to run a magic and joke shop. If you ask him why, he just shrugs and said he made some very bad choices. A relative somewhere oversea, Asia, Clint says it was somewhere in Asia, died and left him some sort of inheritance. So now he just sells fake rubber vomit and teaches slight of hand. Buy him a drink, and learn more than you wanted to know about card tricks. Walk into his shop, and be prepared to sit through at LEAST four card tricks before you can escape.
Greer run’s “Tigra’s Treasure Trove” on the second floor, it’s the anime and manga and gaming and comic shop. She wears cat ears and a tail. Every day. No one’s sure if she does it to bring in the otaku, or if it’s a lifestyle choice. No one wants to ask.
Tony owns the mall. Owns like a hundred malls across the country. No one knows, Obie does the day to day running of the management company, but Tony owns them. He’s mostly in it for the buying and selling, but he likes this mall. This one. He likes it here.
He has a Sharper Image type store on the top floor. It’s him and Rhodey and Pepper and Pepper will kill them both one of these days but he sells the sort of stuff you do not need but God you want it. You walk into his store and it’s all apple store chic, white and chrome and gleaming surfaces, collapseable tablets and robots and holographic projectors and all the geek chic that you want and everyone in the mall wants something from him, they’ve all got something on layaway (he only does layaway for other retail workers because he doesn’t want to keep track of this stuff) except Steve and it makes him insane. He spends far too much time trying to figure out what he can stock or create or build that will get Steve into his shop.
Pepper calls them “Steve-Grabbers,” Like 'grandma grabbers’ but designed to attract the most sincere hipster she’s ever met and she’d kill Tony over adding this stuff to stock without telling her, but it all sells. It all sells. In his desperate attempt to attract Steve, Tony misses and attracts EVERYONE ELSE.