Visalia Mall – A First in California

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By Nicola Wissler
Visalia Chamber of Commerce
visalia – Did you know that the Visalia Mall was the first enclosed shopping mall in California? I didn’t know this until I recently sat down with Richard Feder, general manager at the Visalia Mall. It turns out there are a lot of things that I did not know about the Visalia Mall, and I am guessing you probably don’t know most of this information either.
The Visalia Mall was built in 1964 and remodeled in 1989 and again in 1995. Currently the Visalia Mall is 440,000 square feet and is the home to more than 70 retailers, and the best news is that in 2015 sales per square foot hit an all-time high. With more than 6 million shoppers annually, the Visalia Mall is a high traffic area which is an ideal location for small business owners and entrepreneurs to showcase their products and services.
Many people many not know that you can rent space at the Visalia Mall on a weekly or monthly basis to advertise your business. For a small start-up business, who may not be able to afford to rent store front location, renting a kiosk at the Visalia Mall is a great option. There is guaranteed high foot traffic and exposure which can be a key component to building a brand or business. Feder stated “Businesses can also utilize mall space to advertise and create a distinct connection with the local target market and broaden their reach”. Advertising at the Visalia Mall comes in many shapes and sizes, everything from floor decals, skybanners, pop-up banners, children’s play area /stroller sponsorship or even table tents at the food court. Businesses can even have a sponsored event at the Visalia Mall. “We really want people to think of the Visalia Mall as a great advertising venue for local businesses.”
When asked to explain what have been the keys to success for the Visalia Mall, Feder noted, “One of the keys to success is that we focus on making the mall a clean, safe, fun family friendly establishment. We know that most of our shoppers are younger, between the ages of 18-44. We try to make the mall inviting to these shoppers and their young families.” Many of the retail stores within the Visalia Mall cater to young families with a particularly strong focus on the juniors. Feder noted that another key to success is “The Visalia Mall enjoys very loyal customers, and the addition of several key national retailers like The Children’s Place, Forever 21, Francesca’s Collections, G by Guess, Starbucks, Express, and Crazy 8 over the last four years has helped to increase traffic and sales for the Visalia Mall property.”
With lots of foot traffic at the Mall one of the new programs being implemented this year is Customer UP Front Parking. Mall employees have been asked not to park in the smaller eastern parking lots and are required to use the outer areas of the parking lot and the parking structure, leaving prime surface parking spaces close to the Mall entrance open for customers. The results have been positive. This is just one more way that they Mall is working toward providing their customers with the best experience possible.
As the regional hub for retail shopping the Mall is a major factor in Visalia’s economic strength. Every item purchased at the Visalia Mall includes sales tax which is given to the City of Visalia to support city projects including; police, fire, roads and more. One of the trends that continues to grow is e-commerce, or online sales. Many brick and mortar stores are turning to e-commerce in order to grow their business, while other businesses choose to be strictly e-commerce. “One thing that many people don’t realize is that when you purchase an item online there is no sale tax revenue for the City of Visalia.” The Visalia Mall is part of a trade organization the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) which has been supporting efairness for more than a decade. The premise is that “a sale is a sale” regardless of whether the purchase takes place on Main Street, in shopping centers or online.” Feder urges Visalians to check out the web site www.efairness.org to learn more about how the current sales tax system is unable to support the 21st century retail marketplace.
The Chamber would like to encourage businesses to learn more about advertising opportunities with the Visalia Mall and encourage citizens to learn more about how tax dollars are spent and where funding for City projects comes from. We would like to thank the Visalia Mall for being such a strong supporters of local business for more than fifty years.