So Much More, A Mall of America® Podcast

So Much More, A Mall of America® Podcast

Welcome to SO MUCH MORE, A Mall of America® Podcast. From personal development and entrepreneurship to leadership and learning; we are excited to delve into a wide range of topics and share inspiring stories from a diverse group of guests.


February 21, 2024 29 mins

It’s our pleasure to sit down with Matt “Nur-D” Allen, a fresh new Hip Hop artist and one of the fastest rising stars in Minnesota’s music scene. Nur-D has been sharing his energy infused musical performances at Mall of America® and beyond.   Want to know how he turned his love for comic books and pro wrestling into a music career? How he ended up crashing a Mall of America employee retreat and had everyone on their feet? Or what i...

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Our guests are Kim Cassens and Joe Cassens, the mother and son team who brought the delicious flavors of Nothing Bundt Cakes to Mall of America and other locations. Want to know how a party gift can turn into a career? How a family can work together and enjoy it? How a bundt cake became a national obsession? This episode is for you!   Nothing Bundt Cakes started more than 25 years ago in Las Vegas by two friends who loved to bake a...

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Our guests are Adam Kado and Hosie Thurmond, creators of Slice Brothers Pizza, a new Mall of America fan favorite! They brought the classic NY slice of pizza to Minnesota– and people are loving it!

Kado and Thurmond are longtime friends whose individual journeys reshaped their initial dreams as business owners and redefined what dreams means to them as entrepreneurs. With varied professional backgrounds, they came together to fill ...

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Guests at Mall of America often see news stories on shopping, attractions, holidays and even celebrity events. The public gets to experience the Mall through these stories, but rarely gets to see behind the curtain and experience the story from the reporter's point of view. Today, we are honored to talk with Allison Kaplan and find out how she combined her love for journalism, fashion and business to tell the story of Mall of Amer...

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January 24, 2024 30 mins

L.L. Bean is the epitome of an American success story. This family owned and operated business began in 1912 and has built a multi-generational and very loyal fan base. And its iconic store has been at Mall of America for ten years.

Steve Smith, President and CEO at L.L. Bean is joined by Guy Booth, L.L. Bean Store Manager at Mall of America–together they share the history of the company, its legendary return policy and the heart o...

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January 17, 2024 28 mins

This episode is all about the numbers—in a fun way. If you’ve ever been curious about how many parking spaces there are, how many rolls of toilet paper are used, or how many rides are taken at Mall of America in a year—this one is for you.

Between our two guests, Rich Hoge and Brian Spielman, both long-time leaders at Mall of America, they have more than 50 years of experience at the Mall. They have seen it all, heard it all, and e...

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January 10, 2024 29 mins

Celebrating the unsung heroes of the hospitality industry. That’s the focus of this discussion—and the stories shared during the conversation are memorable.

Guests Bonnie Carlson and Jim Cunningham—both long time hosts and visionaries behind the nationally industry leading Diamond Service Awards—share what prompted the creation of the ceremony, how it has grown over the years, and the impact it has had on the industry. But the best...

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January 3, 2024 23 mins

Who better to share the story–and the future vision–of Mall of America than someone who has been connected from the first days of construction, John Ghermezian. As President of Mall of America, and a member of the family who owns and operates the Mall, Ghermezian brings keen insights and learnings about this successful operation.

Ghermezian shares how the Mall has changed over the years and which factors lead to its continued succe...

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December 27, 2023 28 mins

This episode features three of the most accomplished female leaders in the Twin Cities. Wendy Blackshaw of MN Sports and Events and Tanya Dreesen of the Minnesota Vikings who are joined by host Jill Renslow of Mall of America.

Dreesen began her career in newspapers in Canada, then in Denver and finally to the Twin Cities publishing industry. Along the way she learned about the professional sports industry. In Minnesota, she wanted ...

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Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America is the premier indoor theme park in the nation. With millions of visitors and rides every year, Nick U delivers smiles and screams (the good kind) all year round. To stay fresh, it’s important to add new rides and attractions so guests continue to return.

Ron Hines, VP of Themed Entertainment at Nickelodeon visits with Nate Klutz from the Mall—and host, Jill Renslow—to talk the science and ar...

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If there’s one phrase that captured the nation this year, it is “Hi, Barbie!” This is quickly followed by the same phrase from multiple people. And it’s always said with enthusiasm, a big smile, and an unstoppable sense of optimism.

That is why opening the Malibu Barbie Café experience at Mall of America makes perfect sense! Derek Berry, President of Experiences at Bucket Listers – the group that imagined, created, and opened Malib...

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December 6, 2023 24 mins

In this episode, we explore the Mall’s commitment to supporting its community through nonprofit events, initiatives, and partnerships. We visit with Sara Durhman, Director of Community Relations, who shares her experience organizing and hosting events that benefit the Bloomington Community. This includes planning and hosting charity events and world-record breaking spectaculars.

Sara shares the story of her very first day at the Ma...

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November 29, 2023 29 mins

Ep. 20: Behind the Wonder 

Anyone who has visited Mall of America during the busy holiday season understands why this is a must-visit destination. The events, concerts, activations, décor, and great shopping help make the season bright.

But there is one ‘hidden gem’ at the Mall that many may not be aware of… the Candy Cane Institute (CCI). This episode features Chris Grap and Grant Buntje, along with host Dan Jasper, sharing the s...

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November 22, 2023 28 mins

The holiday season is often filled with families gathering, enjoying meals and gift giving. But that’s not the case for everyone. In this special episode of So Much More, our guests are working hard to bring that joy to those most in need.

Our guests, Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Tyree Stevens of the U.S. Marine Corps and Program Coordinator for the Twin Cities Toys for Tots, and Rob Williams, President and Founder of Every Meal share the...

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November 15, 2023 27 mins

It really is the most wonderful time of the year. And at Mall of America, we are in the holiday spirit! This episode features two special guests, Matt McCormack the CRM + Loyalty Manager for Mall of America alongside Chris Grap who takes a break from his co-hosting duties to talk all things holiday.

Chris and his team collaborate with other Mall teams to transform this 5.6 million square foot building into a holiday wonderland. He ...

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Boasting hundreds of holiday trees, giant size ornaments and enchanted snowflakes…. What really goes into decorating Mall of America for the holiday season? 

In this episode our special guest, John Schouveller, Maintenance Manager at Mall of America, shares how he and his team take on the incredible task of decorating a 5.6 million square foot building. Early during the visit John explains the massive binder he brought with for the...

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November 1, 2023 25 mins

Hooray! The four hosts of So Much More, Jill Renslow, Chris Grap, Grant Buntje and Daniel Jasper shares stories from the first 15 episodes and look forward to the quickly approaching holiday season.

This episode captures fun podcast episode stories along with lessons learned from our amazing variety of guests. Among the most memorable episodes and guests were Arik Cannon with F1RST Wrestling; Sasha Cassadine, the Queen of Drag; Joh...

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October 25, 2023 31 mins

Eric Pehle – nationally recognized for his work in strategic public relations and crisis communications – is our featured guest in this episode. He started his professional journey in broadcast journalism and transitioned to the PR agency world. 

Pehle has been connected to Mall of America before the Mall even opened in 1992. Prior to grand opening he worked with media members from around the world to give them behind the scenes pr...

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October 18, 2023 29 mins

Our guests in this episode both lead social media for international brands. Bari Rosenstein Tippett is the Social Media Manager for Auntie Anne’s and Jamba at Focus Brands LLC. Melanie Dietsch is the Social Media Manager for Mall of America including platforms for Nickelodeon Universe (MOA) and Crayola (MOA). 

During this conversation, Bari and Melanie share their respective professional journey that brought them to the position of...

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October 11, 2023 32 mins

Our guest in this episode is an author, illustrator, entrepreneur, and self-taught designer. Christopher Straub climbed to fame as a fan favorite during season six of Project Runway. But that was not the start – or the pinnacle – of his creative career. 

During this fascinating conversation Straub shares stories ranging from the many projects, he has worked on at Mall of America to his TV appearances. He talks about designing speci...

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