Easter doesn’t seem to be the big retail deal it used to be. In the early eighties, the golden years of the American shopping mall, Easter was right up there with Christmas as a major retail season. At The Rouse Company, Easter marketing programs for each of their individual malls were painstakingly planned and executed to help push store traffic and sales. The Rouse Company is said to have invented the concept of charging retail tenants a percentage of their gross sales as a component of the rent. This gave the company a vested interest in seeing that the mall did well.
The Mall in
Columbia was certainly no exception. Display advertising, special shopping bags, mall décor and promotions for the Easter season were planned out close to a year in advance and carefully choreographed for maximum effect.
I think one or two Rouse malls even had azealea trees for awhile, a spring offspring of our beloved poinsettia tree.
It’s a far cry from today, walking through the Mall this afternoon I was hard pressed to find anything to remind me it was Easter until I came across this pathetic little Easter bunny photo concession.
It must be hard for Marlys East to see this. At the peak of the Rouse mall development years, Marlys was the Vice President of Marketing for the malls. She put together mall events that set the standard for the entire industry back then. The mall marketing directors in the field feared her wrath lest they come up short in any category. If she spotted a table in your mall that was draped but not pleated, you’d likely hear from her.
She still lives in
Columbia and, on days like today, I wonder if she laments the diminishment of the spring holiday in our retail palaces.