Opinion

Auburn's Supermall misses the mark with new name | Klaas

The people have spoken.

The renaming of Auburn's Supermall to "The Outlet Collection|Seattle" is a bad idea.

One reader put it bluntly: "It's a bit of a slap in the face to people in the South End."

The South End is Auburn, a vibrant Green River Valley city, a proud community that is very much its own and very distinct from Seattle.

"It makes no sense whatsoever," another reader chimed in.

It might be just a name to a shopping center. It might not matter – in the long run – to the masses, especially to sale-conscious shoppers, but it certainly makes little sense.

Simply, it doesn't fit Auburn.

In the mall's defense, the name came from the top. It came from corporate, remote Midwest.

Columbus-Ohio-based Glimcher Realty Trust, which has owned the mall since 1997, intends to change its Auburn holding from a hybrid mall to "a pure outlet center."

Fine.

The planned big-money makeover includes new flooring, renovated interior rails, light fixtures, new concourse furniture and interior signs, overhauled restrooms, a "four-star" family restroom, as well as new WiFi hotspots.

Great.

The makeover also will bring new logos and signage – along with a redevelopment of the interior and exterior to "modernize the aesthetic" and update the functional features of the mall.

Super.

But the name?

"This was no whimsical decision. We spent several hundred thousand (of dollars) in marketing research and studies and demographer reports, and it was very, very important for this to succeed," Greg Fleser, general manager of the Auburn Supermall, told City officials last week.

Money well spent?

"It says The Outlet Collection|Seattle," said Councilwoman Nancy Backus. "We're Auburn."

Fleser went on:

"... While Auburn is very important to us and we're still in the community, the name itself has to speak to an entire regional attraction," he said. "The premium outlets across the country are ever so rarely actually in the area after which they name themselves for that very reason. We would be silly not to follow suit with something like that."

Silly?

Auburn and the South End is a region unto itself. Auburn deserves better. It is a community struggling to find its financial feet in a down economy. It could use all the help to draw customers.

Mall leaders should play ball, and reconsider what it puts on its new sign.

Kudos for renovation, for stepping up with improvements.

But the name? "The Outlet Collection|Seattle?

Just a bad idea, joining the likes of the Edsel, New Coke and the $2 bill.

Try "The Outlet Collection|Auburn?"

And we didn't have to spend several hundred thousand of dollars to come up with that.

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