Friday, August 8, 2003

Local malls don't see need to ban teenagers

By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Shopping malls walk a fine line: catering to the adolescent spending power while simultaneously ensuring the malls don't become overrun with groups of exuberant teenagers who chase away other shoppers.

The Dayton Mall has drawn its own line with "MB-16."

The mall has announced a new rule going into effect in September that requires youths under 16 to be accompanied by a parent on Friday and Saturday nights. Officials dubbed the rule MB-16 (Must Be 16).

Malls in Greater Cincinnati aren't sure they need such stringent rules to contain the throngs of young people who congregate on weekends.

David Casper, marketing manager at Kenwood Towne Centre, said teens at the mall have always behaved well.

"A large number of tenants in this mall - Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Aeropostale, a lot of these clothing and music stores - the teens and the tweeners are their biggest constituency," he said. "Any decisions we make on the customer is based on behavior instead of age."

Although some youths are angry over Dayton's rule, the mall's general manager said the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

"I've gotten so many calls of thanks and people looking forward to coming back to the mall on weekends," mall manager Michael Minns said. Becoming a teen hangout "is not the kind of environment we're looking to provide for the customer. From what we've seen, malls that institute these policies see a sales increase as people start coming back to the malls."

According to an international mall council, large groups of teens can discourage shopping.

"Just the sheer size of groups of teens can be intimidating to other customers, especially older people," said Malachy Kavanagh, a spokesman with the New York City-based International Council of Shopping Centers.

But for one Symmes Township teen, this is just another way that adults are limiting the places where kids can hang out.

"It really makes me feel we're missing out - here's another thing the kids can't do," said Seth Rau, 13, who will be an eighth-grader at Yavneh Day School.

"It worries me that if one mall starts doing this, malls in Cincinnati will start doing this," Seth said. "And then it's just one less thing for us to do."


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