Michael Townsend takes the term "mall rat" to a whole new meaning -- the Leesburg, Florida man literally lived in a mall for four years. He built a secret home in an abandoned section of his mall parking garage space which he deemed "the apartment."
"We saw this forgotten land in the mall," he said of his discovery in Providence Place Mall four years ago.
The most astounding part is that it took four years for him to get caught, but now that he has, he is speaking openly about his thoroughly bizarre experience. A self-described public artist, Townsend says that after finding the abandoned space, he committed to building a sanctuary there where he entertained friends and family, including his wife.
He was always stealth about it though, saying he didn't want to get caught for the sake of the security -- he wouldn't have wanted them to feel embarrassed or ashamed for not having caught on. After his arrest for trespassing, he's been a central focus of the media who are just as intrigued as I about life in a mall.
Oddly enough, I "Stumbled Upon" this site yesterday, but quickly left the site, thinking it was a joke. I thought, "How cool! Too bad it isn't real." I envisioned creeping around at night, trying on all the clothes I would love to buy if I could, playing with the ice cream machines in the food court and testing all the cool gadgets and technologies in the electronics store. If I knew there was no one watching, you bet I'd sneak over to Victoria's Secret, slip into something fun, and shimmy over to the Sony store to pump up some tunes where I would shake it til dawn.
"It was a genuine escape and it was a great place to be," he told CNN in a live video (follow the source link for the whole thing.)
At the end of his site, TrummerKind, he has a brief list of frequently asked questions, and fortunately, the answer to one of my most pressing ones was included: Does he have any other secret installments?
It's called "
Marble-Themed Chocolate Calendars
Exclusive Sport-Inspired Scarves
Chimpanzee Christmas Party Ads
90 Gifts for Pets
Pulse-Tracking Oxygen Meters