Samurai swords: Sign of The Commons mall's prosperity? | Federal Way letters
July 7, 2010 · Updated 5:38 PM
Regarding The Mirror article "New tenants fill empty spaces at Federal Way's Commons mall" (July 3): It has been an ongoing challenge for mall operators to attract appropriate businesses to The Commons mall (formerly Seatac Mall). Over the years we have seen many high and low cycles in the mall's vitality, ambiance and purposefulness.
One method I use to gauge a mall's ambiance is by taking a count of how many stores there are selling fake samurai swords. One store = borderline. Two or more = unnecessary. Two years ago the Auburn Supermall was up to six such establishments. I haven't surveyed The Commons recently, but at one time we had at least two.
When it comes to purposefulness, I really question why the FedEx office would move from the Gateway Center into the front of the mall where there is no dedicated parking for its patrons. A business such as FedEx needs to have quick and convenient parking for its drop-in (and often box and paper carrying) patrons. The western entrance to the mall does not support this. Quite often one must park as far away as Applebee's to access this entrance. This is not very conducive to those who just want to make quick copies, or haul large quantities of paper in the inclement weather. Some businesses just work best for their patrons in a strip mall.
Taking the common tact of "let the market decide" may work in the short term for mall operators who are trying to fill vacant stores. But the mall's long-term vitality (ability to create a desirable atmosphere where patrons will return frequently) is directly influenced by its ambiance, practicality and purposefulness.
Larry Paterson, Federal Way