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Pokemon Go Has Invaded Forever 21, Sephora, and Every Mall in America

Photo: @GoBobbo/Twitter

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Pokemon Go, the just-launched mobile game phenomenon that I couldn’t possibly begin to explain to you, is already invading fashion. Turns out, people are catching Pokemon while shopping for clothes, and often wandering into stores they otherwise would’ve ignored solely for the purpose of obtaining a rare species. Welcome to 2016!

Because the game requires players to physically move around in the world, sometimes to the point of accidental leg soreness, much of the conversation around Pokemon Go centers around the best places to find them. And often, those places happen to be some of the least likely locations to find a swarm of eager nerds playing nostalgia-based video games.

Against all odds, people are catching Pokemon in Forever 21:

And H&M:




American Apparel:

And this mall, where Justin Bieber was shopping:

Stores, of course, have caught onto the opportunity all of this potential foot traffic presents. One T-Mobile location even posted a winky sign that maybe wasn’t given corporate approval:

An indie clothing store also proudly advertised itself as a PokeStop (a place where players can stock up on items like PokeBalls):

Photo: Imgur

Meanwhile, other stores are actively trying to curb Poke-mooching with signs like this:

Sephora even allegedly kicked customers out who were clearly only there for Pokemon Go:

Many stores, however, seem eager to monetize this bizarre new phenomenon of customers randomly walking in with absolutely zero intention of purchasing anything. The writer of a Forbes article entitled "How Pokemon Go Can Lure More Customers Into Your Local Business" received a barrage of questions from shop owners asking how they can turn their stores into PokeStops or Pokemon Gyms (places where players can fight each other).

For now, these locations are predetermined by the game developers, but it’s not hard to imagine a future in which enterprising retailers could pay a sum in exchange for becoming one of these hotspots, a la fashion brands getting in on celebrity mobile games to sell clothes.

In the meantime, the lucky stores that are finding themselves overrun with Pokemon are already figuring put how to engage with players. Consider Woolworths, which responded to a customer's Pokemon Go-related complaint with a series of Pulitzer-winning puns:

Hey, if there’s one thing could save the fate of the American mall in 2016, it’s Pokemon.