The Six Flags Mall in Arlington was once like any other typical mall with stores spanning its lengths of hallways and major retail outlets such as Dillard’s and JC Penny anchoring the smaller stores within. In time, the mall on Division and 360 has declined in both visitors and offerings to those who do come.
A few stores still struggle to stay, but they are not names you might recognize as they are mostly independently owned small businesses. The movie theater is the only attraction that pumps any life blood through the building and is still in great condition with quality screens, seating, and sound systems along with prices that cannot be beat by any theater in the area.
Despite the quality and standing of the theater, it is hard to imagine the mall will continue to stay open long. The question, however, is whether this is inevitable or if the mall can be revitalized and contribute to Arlington in some way.
Over the next few weekends, in a series of editorial opinion columns, I intend to suggest ideas toward this effort in the form of revitalizing the Six Flags Mall as a sort of Recreational Mall & Community Center; a type of mall I would like to see in Arlington and beyond and have yet to ever come across.
The general idea of this mall/community center is to merge the concepts of business retail with giving back to the community that serves the mall itself rather than focusing solely on the profit of the store. Instead, it also measures the profit of the city in the benefits provided by the unique experience found here.
The hallways of the mall would be kept clear of kiosks selling cell phones, t-shirts, sunglasses, cell phones, t-shirts, sunglasses, followed by cell phones…t-shirts…and, yes, sunglasses. Hallways should be kept open and easily navigated with only benches laid out for visitors to sit and rest. Certain areas would have these seating areas arranged to encourage conversation between those taking a break to sit.
Large retail chains would not likely to be found here as the profitability of the mall would be questionable to begin with and is not the main focus to begin with. As a community center, the emphasis would be on community and thus in developing a community of small businesses. To that end, store managers and possibly assistant store managers would be scheduled to attend a monthly meeting to review how business is going and generate new ideas for the mall as a whole.
The main focus, however, would be for the mall to reach out to the community and offer something back. Specifically, each store operating in the mall would offer some sort of educational offerings to kids, teenagers, or their parents (or adults in general). This may be in the form of weekend volunteering to learn about something related to the store or other activities organized at the mall, introducing young minds to business practices and operations or to the skill sets and knowledge related to the product the store deals with.
Rest assured, for such a concept to take shape, the types of stores are not the likes of which you’d find anywhere else, which is what would set the mall apart from the Parks Mall to the south or other malls in the area. And that’s what the Six Flags Mall needs: a new identity and something to set it apart from the rest.
The Six Flags Mall. Look at the name for a minute and think about it. Six Flags is an amusement park and this mall was named after it. Shouldn’t it be a fun place to go?
In the next entry, I’ll be presenting ideas for stores I could see breathing new life to the mall and how they could contribute to consumers and those interested in them.
What would you like to see in a Community Center style mall to set it apart from “the same old thing” you see in every mall?