Here's a neat little piece about renting kiosks in the LA Times. I don't really remember seeing them in malls as a little kid, but installing them made so much sense. By putting them in what was once common area of the center you essentially create found money. (There are also common area carts, which is a slightly different beast; contact me if you want to know more.)
It can also be a win-win for both parties. As the article says, kiosks can be a cheaper way for beginning retailers to get into the business, perhaps with a cheap(er) and short(er) term lease. And for landlords, while the rent may be cheap, on a per square foot basis the kiosk can be great.
But if you are thinking about opening a bead shop for the holidays, remember a few things. The break-even costs are not low, the hours can be brutal (you have to be open whenever the mall is, which can be 70+ hours a week), and there's plenty of competition even in a recession. But if you have an itch to do retail, are not on a huge budget, but also do not want to say to yourself, "If only I'd opened my own business..." then this is an entry-level way to do it. Just be cautious in signing anything as a tenant, and get a good lawyer to look over the mall's almost certainly one-sided lease form so you are at least aware of your obligations.