September 17, 2007

New Managers Revamp Mall

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The Pyramid Mall, now known as the Shops of Ithaca, is becoming bigger and better.
Under the new supervision of Triax Management Group, the mall has installed a 14-screen stadium-seating Regal Cinema and brought in everything from skateboarding kitsch to an expanded American Eagle store. Not only is the new administration changing the mall’s name and its shops, but it also aims to become more eco-friendly.
In discussing the success of recent changes, Gina Speno, general manager of the Shops of Ithaca, said, “The response for the theatre has been wonderful. When measured compared to other theaters, the Regal Theater ranks in the upper echelon.”
In terms of the development of retail stores, the purpose is not just to attract big names, but also a wide variety.
“Our main goal in attracting retailers is to get the perfect mix and to satisfy all demographics,”Speno said.
A major demographic not common to many malls, however, is college kids. Because the city of Ithaca is bustling with college students from Ithaca College and Cornell, the Shops of Ithaca markets itself accordingly.
“We do look for stores that are geared towards college kids,”Speno said.
Zumiez, an apparel store for teenagers and college kids, just opened this past year.
“There are multiple reasons for coming to Ithaca. One is that the company is expanding and branching out to as many locations as possible,” said Beau Kester, first assistant manager of the store. “Another is definitely the fact of how many college kids live in the vicinity. In addition, Zumiez is introducing snowboarding and skiing apparel which hopefully will be very successful once Ithaca’s winter season rolls around.”
Eric Poch, an employee of Spencer’s and resident of Tompkins County, would like the new management to make more of an attempt to attract high school and college kids to the mall.
“Although I agree with the philosophy of the new management, I don’t think some of their actions have been in the best interest of the mall,” Poch said. “Hot Topic was going to be put up in the mall, which would have been a great store for teenagers. The new management, however, decided against it. I think that focusing on kids more than adults is a much better way to improve the mall. The arcade, for example, is a small store but is doing really well because of all the kids.”
Not only does Poch believe that marketing to kids would increase profits for the mall, it would also help make the mall a community center.
“If we have more stores for kids, then the mall will become the spot to hang out instead of the Commons,” Poch said.
Meanwhile, many college kids do not even go to the mall for the apparel shopping. Will Foss ’11 said there are economic advantages for shopping at the mall.
“It is so much cheaper to buy food at Target than at Bear Nasties,” Foss said.
According to Speno, “The goal of the mall’s new management is to allow local shoppers to do the vast majority of their shopping in one place, making a trip to the Ithaca Mall an all-day affair.”
The new administration of the mall, Triax Management Group, is not just committed to monetary gain, but also to environmental safety. Besides their new economic activity, the new management is also trying to show its concern for the community by turning the mall “green.”
“In our efforts to become environmentally aware, there are short term and long term goals,” Speno said. “Some of our short-term goals include buying only environmentally friendly cleaning products, recycling, and plotting plants and other greenery around the mall. Our long-term goals, however, have not been reached yet.”
The shopping center’s move towards sustainability is not completely free of monetary incentive since this decision is part of the mall’s plan to become a center of community activity.
According to Speno, Triax Management does not just want to be a place to do a few errands; the main goal of the administration is to integrate the mall into the local society, bringing a lot of life to the Shops at Ithaca Mall.
“We are trying to fit into the area and become a place for the community to congregate,” Speno said.
Family events such as antique shows or art fairs not only establish the mall as a hub for social activity in the local area; additionally, the traffic generated from such events is always a sign of any successful mall.
When looking to the future, Speno said, “our two main goals are creating the perfect mix of different retail stores as well as improving our customer service.”
The mall has set high goals in its efforts to improve consumer satisfaction as well as environmental safety. For the moment, Speno said, customers can be content with the fact that the Shops of Ithaca are determined to make shopping there the best experience possible.