Thursday, January 8, 2015

Golden Opportunity

There are a lot of people out there under the mistaken conception that if they don't talk with us, we won't do a story.

Wrong, so wrong.

Case in point:  just before Christmas.  The Mall at Steamtown was losing two more stores.

The mall's general manager refused to allow us to come inside with a camera, and he claimed he had no formal notice the stores were closing.  Be that as it may.  We learned store workers knew the end was near a long time ago, and store management started whittling down the payroll, from about 50 to 25 at the end.

The camera thing is one for the lawyers.  The news media has the same rights as the public.  No more, but no less.  It's okay for you to pull out your smart phone and take pictures of your kid looking at the decorations.  I can't take pictures of a soon to be shuttered store.  Unfortunately, there wasn't the time to argue the point.  We got by with pictures from the mall's own web site.  Thank you, very much.  There's a way around everything.

Because the mall's manager refused to play, I placed a call to the mall's sales and marketing agent.  I asked about the vacancy rate.  He declined to offer a percentage.  I replied "I can report what I see, and I see this place 75 per cent empty."  He reluctantly said that figure was on the mark.  No other comment.

Then, there was a call to the home office of the two closing stores.  On hold for 10 minutes.  I was then told to e-mail in my inquiry.  I did'  No response by air time.

So, we spoke with disappointed shoppers outside-- people hoping to grab a Christmas gift, but who left empty handed.  They bashed the mall, and no one else was willing to step up and defend the place.

Mall management, store ownership, sales agent:  have it your way.  All you had to say was "We're working on filling the space."  "We love Scranton.  Unfortunately, the numbers weren't working for us, and we had to go."

You missed a golden opportunity to tell your customers that you cared.  Maybe, you never did and that's why you're now in a pickle.