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New business model, planned downtown development creates optimistic future for Santa Maria Town Center mall

Santa Maria Town Center

SANTA MARIA, Calif. – After experiencing many ups and downs since it first opened in 1976, the future of the Santa Maria Town Center mall is looking brighter each day.

Mall management reports an upturn in foot traffic created in large part by a new philosophy in attracting more experiential businesses, rather than just traditional retail stores.

"We definitely have to evolve with the times and I feel that is what the Town Center is doing here," said Yarely Corona, Santa Maria Town Center Marketing Manager. "You have to give them more options."

While visitors to the mall will still see the usual selection of retail and dining options, now there are several other attractions inside the 47-year-old shopping center, including trampoline park, ax throwing, batting cages, vintage gaming arcade, as well as gymnastics and boxing venues.

"They have experiential businesses taking place here, which are great for families, great for kids," said Suzanne Singh, Santa Maria Valley Chamber Economic Development Director. "I think they're looking into doing other things that are more fun for families to have activities in. I think diversifying for them has been key in their success."

Corona points out the mall's pivot from trying fill spaces with stores and restaurants, to adding other types of businesses, is proving to be a successful formula that is benefiting everyone throughout the Town Center.

"We are definitely trying to fill these spaces that are multi-use," said Corona. "We bring in the kids, but the parents also come and they need to buy, maybe a pair of shoes, or they might get hungry and go to our food court after a day of activities, so it's definitely a win-win bringing in those types of businesses into our center."

In addition to the non-traditional activity-related businesses, the mall is also attracting visitors with different types of family-friendly events.

"We have a kid series every month," said Corona. "We bring in either Disney characters, or we bring in arts and crafts that the kids can do, and that's just bringing in some traffic on some days that we normally wouldn't get traffic, so maybe on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoons, we'll have somebody that will bring in a huge amount of traffic to our center and in hopes that they go buy a Wetzel pretzel, or go buy a lemonade, and just bringing in that extra foot traffic during those slower days."

As the mall enjoys its recent economic upswing, even better and brighter days are potentially ahead in the near future.

A possible game changer for the mall is the long-planned revitalization of downtown Santa Maria, which includes several high-profile housing projects that are in the works to be built right next to, or across the street from the Town Center.

"The new development proposed for downtown Santa Maria would be absolutely huge for us," said Corona. "Of course, it would mean a lot of people would be living right across the street from us, and in hopes that they come in during the week and weekend. Not only would it bring in new traffic. Hopefully, it would continue to bring in that traffic that would give these businesses, and a lot of our small businesses that business, that I'm sure they would appreciate and would really benefit from."

Businesses owners, such as Rudy Ruiz, who owns World 1-1 Games and World 1-1 GamePlay, believes having thousands of people living only steps away from the mall is a huge opportunity for current and future businesses.

"I think it would really be big," said Ruiz. "Just having people walk not even five minutes to the mall and be able to indulge that's here and to come. It would be really good for businesses present and future businesses coming. I think the future is very bright for the mall.  With the way the path has been going for it, there's a lot of potential and a lot of good stuff coming our way."

For more on the future of the Santa Maria Town Center mall, watch News Channel 3-12 tonight at 6 p.m.

Article Topic Follows: Money and Business
Santa Maria Town Center

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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.


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