How Would You Solve The Great Northern Problem?
It’s interesting to note that Destiny and Great Northern opened close to the same time. From where I live, I’m about 10 minutes from each of them. I’ve gloried in the success of Destiny and worried about what looks like the demise of Great Northern. In my mind, both malls should be doing well, but they’re not.
Many of the pundits believe that Destiny sucks the life out of any other mall in the area. I’m not sure that’s a fair enough statement. After all, Great Northern thrived for a very long time, and only within the last 7 years or so seemed to have fallen on the worst of times.
I’ll admit that on this one I might be out of my league, and there’s possibly no saving it. Yet, if I had my shot (and a little bit of money) here’s a few things I’d at least try to do with it.
1. The mall is missing a major anchor store in the old Bon Ton location, which hurts one end of the mall drastically. I’d take that space, chop it in half, and try to bring in two top tier exclusive garment stores, one for men and one for women. I don’t remember if there’s ever been a men’s store in the mall but having one of each right next to each other in a large space but not overly large would add some spice.
Having said that, since I’m not in the industry and hate shopping for clothes (plus a little older) I’m not sure who I’d try to bring in, but by top tier I mean exclusive, someone who’s not already in the area and is known for top quality items. Anyone have ideas?
2. The mall has only ever had one nice restaurant, which was Ruby Tuesdays. There’s also a food court that includes Friendly’s. In my opinion, with only the one food option, and in the area of the mall where there was little traffic, there was little driving people to consider it as a place where consumers could come to get a great meal and then shop… which is what Destiny has done in the new part of their mall.
If I had my way, I’d have had at least 5 to 7 restaurants in there. I’d have had a restaurant across from Ruby’s, two restaurants down by Sears, one by Macy’s and the other two… I’d have found places for them. Once again, something different than what we already have (one would have had to be Ruth’s Chris; please, someone get a Ruth’s Chris up here), maybe two or three of them being local. They’d all have to offer something different, which means ethnic I assume, not just being “comfort food” places.
The thing about that is it would get the people coming from Oswego County and the areas around Baldwinsville and Cicero and all parts in between to consider going there instead of bypassing it for Destiny; choice always does that.
3. The days are gone where I’m a major fan of live music other than a few major acts and symphonic music. Still, live concerts draw people, and weekends are the strongest time for malls to succeed.
Therefore, I’d create a space where I could have at least 2,000 seats for concerts, which would highlight local acts and up and coming national acts of all types. You wouldn’t only have to have the concerts on the weekends, but that would be a way to drive people to the mall. Also, a deal could be made with the newly created restaurants in the mall to have kind of a dinner and show package, which would benefit both sides.
If there’s not already a preexisting area (my original thought would have been to close a couple of the theaters and turn it into a show area) then move some of those cars that Fuccillo has sitting in a parking lot, build a showcase in part of that space while making sure it’s still attached to the existing mall.
4. This is a different type of thing, but it’d be what’s needed. I’d give not only the new residents but the existing residents a tax break. New residents would get 10 years while the existing folks would get 5. Destiny got a major tax deal that should be offered to other malls, and I think Great Northern could benefit from something like that.
That’s all I have for now, just to get started. I’m not sure if it’d be feasible but they’re ideas anyway. Do you have any ideas you think could help, or are you resigned to just closing another mall and leaving Destiny as the one and only place in the area?