Hello, Quincy Mall. It's me, Brodie. I've been visiting you for a few years. Hell, I even shopped at you before I even moved here. I interviewed for this job a few weeks before Christmas, so I bought a few things for my niece and nephew. You have decent shops, solid eateries, and I dig that movie theatre bringing in smaller, independent films. All that said, you're facing some problems of stores leaving. Not your fault, those stores were problematic nationally. That's OK. I'm here to help. Or at least, I'm here to talk my ideas at you and hope they aren't WAY off base.

Face Lift

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You gotta ditch the 80s look of the mall. Yeah, we're not walking into a sea of neon and aqua-net, but the mall probably hasn't changed much since the hey day of malls. The exterior is still this big beige monolith. If it wasn't for random signs on the side, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the mall and a hospital and a shady government building that may or may not house the Men In Black. The interior is a little better... but it still feels like I'm in a mall, you know? I mean, I get it. I am, in fact, in a mall. It just feels so confining, and mall like.

Open it up a bit to get some natural light in, maybe play with some different color schemes for paint and tile. Or, and hear me out on this, do it up to resemble an outdoor market. Or city streets. Do a sort of cobblestone motif for the floors. Bring in some plants, get some lamp posts. Make it a place people might want to walk around in and visit. More on that later.

Expand the Movie Theatre

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Is this more of a personal preference? Maybe. However, hear me out on this one. Sears is leaving. You've already got the movie theatre down at that end of the mall. Talk to AMC about expanding the size and scope of the mall movie theatre. To 12 screens. It ups the screens in our town, gives them the opportunity to bring in indies like they try to, while still giving major releases multiple screens, and if AMC does that, then closes the Showplace, people have a reason to visit, and be in the mall.

Convert Some Space to Performance Venues

Robert Kohlhuber

A comedy club, a small concert hall, preferably on the side away from the aforementioned movie theatre. If you bring in some niche restaurants and bars (more on that below) and clubs, you can attract people who will be there after hours. Even if you have to separate out the venues from the shops, just as a safety measure, that's fine.

Niche Stores and Eateries

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Now, Sears and Bergners leaving is hardly the fault of the Quincy Mall. Those are big national brands that are going under. Same with Payless. But the problems they're facing, are the problems you want to address, according to the WGEM interview the other day, and that's combating the internet. Hell, even the Bookstore is setting its sights on another location. Fortunately there's a way to combat the flight, and that's by looking at your westernmost neighbor.

No, not California, that's way too far west. I'm talking about Quincy's downtown. The District. As a shopping area, it's on point by offering a lot of locally owned, mom & pop, niche stores and restaurants. Don't try to steal business from them, but adapt what they do to fit your needs. One of the nice things about the District (in which I currently live) is the walkability. I can walk up to the park and check out all the shops and stop for a sandwich and a beer and be good. Dead of summer or middle of winter.

What do you have to the north of you? Directly to the north? Like walk out the back entrance, what do you see? Houses. Residential areas. Neighborhoods. Families. Reconfigure that back parking lot to be accessible. You could even have space for outdoor performances (like The District does).

No matter where I go, what towns I live in, from Marquette, Michigan to Manhattan, Kansas to Mexico, Missouri (I like towns that start with the letter 'M'... I'm looking at property in Mendon), the downtown districts are usually doing fairly well. Even if one business closes, another springs up in its place. Make it attractive for people to ask their spouse or kids, "Want to walk down to Que Town Bar-B-Que for dinner tonight?"

If you make it welcoming, accessible, diverse, and focus on the local angle, you'll not only have a shopping center Quincyans will want to visit, but people will want to come to Quincy to visit.