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Supermall Disappoints Merchants Some Retailers Say Sales Fall Much Below Expectations


Despite a summertime publicity blitz, some residents of the SuperMall of the Great Northwest say sales have been anything but super.

“There’s actually not much traffic in here,” said Sharilyn Burnett, manager of Vans shoe store, who has cut her staff almost in half since August, when the mall opened.

“Weekends seem to be good, but weekdays are like Death Valley,” Burnett said.

Store managers are reporting profits that have fallen short of expectations.

“It’s pretty slow, that’s the way it is all the time,” said Clarence Parrotte of Communicators Page Club USA, which sells pagers and cell phones on carts at the SuperMall as well as Tacoma Mall, Everett Mall, Bellevue Square and Southcenter.

“Honestly, this is our worst location,” he said. “We’re moving at the end of the month. There are just not enough customers to pay wages to employees, make a profit or pay the rent.”

“It would be much better if this were 1992 at the height of retailing,” acknowledged Stan Tabb, vice president of the Hapsmith Co., the mall’s owner.

When the company proposed the SuperMall in 1992, the retailing climate was much more favorable. But projections haven’t panned out, forcing the mall to delay until next year the expansion that would make it the state’s largest mall.

The 69-day Boeing Machinists strike last fall didn’t help either, SuperMall officials say.

During its grand opening in August, the SuperMall was marketed as a place where customers could find 30 to 70 percent discounts. That may have jaded some customers, shop owners say.

“When people found out that half these stores weren’t discount, people were disappointed,” said David Guzman, manager of Shirtique, a chain of California-based sports memorabilia stores.

The Incredible Universe electronics store, which opened 10 months before the rest of the mall, had to handle complaints from shoppers expecting steep discounts on computer equipment. But manager Terry Perone said the store already retails at very small profit margins.

“I think the mall’s initial advertising could have been done differently,” Perone said.

The SuperMall has since modified its advertising.

Still, some store managers say that succeeding in the retail world takes time.

“All new malls take a year. People have got to give it time,” Guzman said.

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