Best Buy has turned its attention to mall locations because "we want to be in a shopping area where consumers are living their daily lives, knowing that everyone in America is going to have to upgrade to a new smartphone every two years," Moore said. "We want to provide that service to them, even if they're not a core Best Buy customer."

Barrie Avery, an 18-year-old student at Loch Raven High School, sought advice at Best Buy Mobile for a new smartphone he said he wanted mainly for calling friends and playing games.

Stopping in on a weekday afternoon at the Towson Town Center store, he said he felt more comfortable in a smaller store where "there are more [sales] people to understand what you need."

GameStop is opening 84 temporary GameStop Kids stores this holiday season, including one at White Marsh Mall and another at Marley Station in Glen Burnie. Most of the malls also have permanent GameStop stores.

"This is truly our test environment," Puzon said. "We're looking at sales volume and footsteps every day. We've got options to extend some of the leases. With some, we may extend the leases or stay open as long as we get footsteps in the store."

Customers at White Marsh on a recent Friday morning included parents buying holiday gifts.

"This is pretty cool," said Lisa Calvert of Dundalk about the kid-focused video game store, before buying two Nabi tablet computers for her 3-year-old and her 6-year-old. "The other GameStops seems to be more for older people. This will be their big presents."

Brian Hunt of Middle River had been shopping in the mall a day earlier with his kids, who had spotted merchandise in the brightly colored store. He returned alone the next day to buy "Mario" book bags and action figures for his son.

"It's hard to find Mario stuff," he said. "Most of the game shopping we do is for the kids, and this is kid-friendly."

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