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It's a Mall World After All

I'm a big fan of dichotomy and paradox.  The more opposite and contradictory things appear to be, the more they seem to appeal to me.  I've always been drawn to contrast, though.  Not conflict, mind you... contrast.  Maybe that's why the only TV show (at least, the only show that is purely driven by entertainment) that's grabbed my attention in the past five years has been Dexter... imagine, a law enforcement forensics expert who's also a serial killer.  Like I said, it's that kind of paradox that just grabs my attention.

Mall_merle_hayFor those who have been reading my blog for a while, you may remember the disastrous experience my students and I had with Merle Hay Mall last year during an exercise for my Creativity class.  The security guards and the mall's general manager couldn't have been any more unpleasant if they'd tried.  So I have to admit I was holding my breath when the class exercise came around this year.  I decided not to give Merle Hay another chance to win me over, so I thought I'd give Jordan Creek Town Center a try.

Wow!  Was I bowled over by the difference in reaction.  Martha, a delightful person in the mall management office, was not only friendly about my request to let my students hold their scavenger hunt at her mall, she simply effused enthusiasm.  Then she sent me their "Electronic scavenger hunt permission request form," and I almost fell out of my seat.  Instead of chasing away potential customers like Merle Hay Mall did, Jordan Creek proactively anticipated the need.  Within one business day, I had another positively enthusiastic response.

MalljordancreektowncenterDuring the exercise, the security guards were friendly and helpful with my students, providing them with direction and assistance.  The mall's store employees joined in the fun as well.  The result?  My students this year felt like the experience was a great enhancement to the classroom learning experience.  By contrast, my students last year felt defeated by the experience.  Same exercise.  Very different results.

What is my point of sharing this story?  Well, Merle Hay Mall is asking the government for tax-funded grants to upgrade their mall so they can "stay competitive" against places like Jordan Creek.  Maybe they are trying to solve the wrong problem.  Perhaps a replacement of mall management might be a good first step to draw in customers and make the place more inviting and fun.  I know enough community stakeholders who have had equally dismal experiences in dealing with the mall staff.  It could be that a shift in focus would better serve the mall - and the taxpayers - in seizing their desired accomplishments.

What do you think?


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