Danville Register & Bee | The Mall Cracks Down on Tradition?
Piedmont Mall's new owners have big plans that include the first major overhaul of the shopping center that was built in 1984.
A lot has changed since then, but one thing hasn't Piedmont Mall remains a private business that has the look and feel of a public square. That's a characteristic common to all indoor malls they have a "main street" look and feel without main street problems like traffic, terrain, weather and limited parking.
Over the years, malls like Danville's have attracted teenagers, especially on weekends, to shop and socialize. But in an attempt to create a more family-friendly shopping experience, the mall's new owner is cracking down on unescorted teens on Friday and Saturday nights.
"We're trying to promote a family venue," Hull Storey Gibson Companies principal John Gibson said of the "Family First" policy.
That policy probably will probably cause a short-term drop in business at the mall. Transitions are often tough for businesses as one model that customers have grown accustomed to like a mall full of teens on a Friday or Saturday night gives way to something new and different.
While the teenagers used to hanging out at the mall would probably disagree, older shoppers and people with young children probably didn't share their vision of the mall as a place for teenaged friends to meet and greet. Over the years, the complaints have included vulgar language, crowding the walkways and rude behavior. Even if most kids didn't do those things, it didn't take a lot of troublemakers or trouble to scare off older shoppers and people with young children.
Over time, the addition of family-friendly programming like the Pinewood Derby, health fairs and dance exhibitions along with the promised renovations will change the look and feel of Piedmont Mall.
"We're going to transform that property," Gibson promised. The renovations are expected to begin in 2013.
That transformation will start out by taking something away that people in this case, teen shoppers have long enjoyed. It will take several years to see if that change, plus the new events, and eventually, the renovations, really change the way local shoppers see Piedmont Mall.
But with the national economy rebounding, this is the right time for businesses to plan for growth in the recovery. That includes Piedmont Mall, which after 28 years in Danville faces its toughest changes and potentially best days.