Purpose – This paper aims to join a growing movement in marketing history to include the voices of consumers in historical research on retail environments. It aims to show that consumer perspectives offer new insights to the emergence and reception of large-scale, pre-planned shopping centers in Australia during the 1960s, and allow one to write a history of this retail form from below, in contrast to the top-down approach that is characteristic of the broader literature on shopping mall development. Design/methodology/approach – Written testimonies by consumers were gathered using a qualitative online questionnaire. The methodology is related to oral history, in that it seeks to capture the subjective experiences of participants, has the capacity to create new archives, to fill or explain gaps in existing repositories and provide a voice to those frequently lost to the historical record. Findings – The written testimonies gathered for this project provide an important contribution to the understanding of shopping centers in Australia and, particularly Sydney, during the 1960s, the ways that they were envisaged and used and insights into their reception and success. Research limitations/implications – As with oral history, written testimony has limitations as a methodology due to its reliance on memory, requiring both sophisticated and cautious readings of the data. Originality/value – The methodology used in this paper is unique in this context and provides new understandings of Australian retail property development. For current marketers, the historically constituted relationship between people and place offers potential for community targeted promotional campaigns.