Trumbull Mall Upgrades

Amaya Mikolič-Berrios ‘21
EE Editor-in-Chief

A general consensus among Trumbull teens is the utter lack of excitement in our small town. We have Westfield Mall, Bowtie Cinemas, a few odd shops here and there, and that is just about it. Yet new changes in our local shopping mall as well as throughout the town suggest that intriguing developments are being made.

As more people succumb to the appeals of online shopping, malls around the world are suffering a similar fate: few customers, empty retail spaces, and bankrupt stores. This trend is no different in the Trumbull Mall, where stores such as Denali, Charlotte Russe, and Tea La La have left. The result is a building full of empty lots with an abandoned atmosphere taking the place of a once lively and entertaining shopping experience. With the ease and comfort with which one can shop without ever needing to leave the house, the future of mall stores is precarious.

First Selectman Vicki Tesoro says, “Big box stores just are not the same; people aren’t going to them anymore. This requires the need to add a factor of entertainment, which Seaquest is a great example of. This additional attraction of entertainment brings in customers, not just for the entertainment but for the stores. All around Trumbull, there is a lot of business opening. We are a very business friendly community. We want to attract them to come here and make sure that once they are here, they want to stay.”

The example Tesoro brings up, Seaquest, is a controversial though accurate one. Its connection to various animal abuse allegations have caused many residents and even the press, such as the Trumbull Times, to question its existence in Trumbull. Nevertheless, it introduces the idea of consumer participation as a way to compel more business into the Mall. With the general decline of malls seen throughout the world, this approach may be the solution to Westfield’s commercial slump.

As the need to visit physical stores in order to shop diminishes, adding this new level of entertainment creates an experience for customers that encourages them to enter. It appears that several new stores and the Westfield Mall as a whole are already using this strategy to attract business. New arrivals such as Haagen-Dazs, 7-Eleven, and Seaquest are bringing an air of novelty and entertainment while the mall also has several organized events to entice customers.

In addition to entertainment, Westfield has the opportunity to radically change the function of the Mall, though there are currently no plans to do so. The Mall owns land zoned for mixed-use development that would, according to Tesoro, “bring in business and give people a place to live and work. However, there currently are no plans on the mall’s part to utilize this zone change and build apartments.”

Nevertheless, newly arriving stores and their creation of an entertainment experience suggest the Mall is becoming more consumer oriented foreshadowing its evolution from simplistic shopping to marketing events and experiences.

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