In the year 2000 at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio, Abercrombie and Fitch opened the first location of its new shop, Hollister, and set Midwestern high schoolers like myself California dreaming. Designed with a “Dude” or a “Betty” in mind, Hollister had a West Coast–meets–That ’70s Show vibe. There was a dimly lit “lounge” where you could sink into vintage velvet chairs with funky rope fringe and flip through the latest surfer or skateboard magazine. Or you could select the store soundtrack through a special touch screen, which offered a curated list of rad music. My favorite feature was a giant, wall-size screen that streamed a live feed of sunny Huntington Beach, California, into the mall on dreary Ohio afternoons. Even if I never purchased Hollister’s clothing, I always stopped in the store to watch surfers in real time and transport myself into a new lifestyle. Sometimes—a decade before Instagram selfies—my friends and I would sneak photos of ourselves in front of the screen, as if we were on the beach. Years later, I found myself working as a store designer for Abercrombie and Fitch. I once helped facilitate the municipal approval of upgrades to the cameras on the Huntington Beach pier for Hollister’s live-feed system, which now streamed California to suburbs all across the country. I knew then what I hadn’t as a teenager in Ohio: Retail stores have become a host for experiences first, and buying things second—if at all. Read more at The Atlantic.