In a move managers of the Fox Hills Mall said will help them compete with the newer "state of the art" shopping centers, the Culver City council has given initial approval to a proposal allowing trade shows and promotion campaigns to operate in the city for up to 30 days.
The proposal, offered last week by council members Richard Brundo and Richard Alexander, amends a current city ordinance limiting promotion and trade shows by shopping malls and hotels to five days.
Fox Hills Mall managers said that easing the restriction will make it easier to schedule promotions aimed at attracting shoppers to the three-tiered, 139-store center in southern Culver City.
Mall managers said that the current city law treats their relatively small promotion campaigns, such as drawings for free plane trips offered by airlines, like the larger-scale trade shows conducted mainly in hotels and convention centers.
Fox Hills Mall, built in 1974 and once one of the few large indoor malls on the Westside, has since seen newer centers spring up in the area, including the Santa Monica Mall in Santa Monica, the Westside Pavilion in Rancho Park and the Beverly Center near Beverly Hills.
"We are in a very competitive part of L.A., probably the most competitive part," said Scott Laslo, general manager of Fox Hills. "There are three or four state-of-the-art shopping malls now on the Westside (and) a lot of new discount retail stores. There is just an incredible saturation of retail in the Westside area."
Laslo said that most shopping malls like Fox Hills need to be upgraded every five years to compete with the new malls, and that the mall plans to redesign some of its interior in the near future.
"Basically, we are a 10-year-old shopping center. We are just not as appealing as those (new) shopping centers from a design standpoint," he said. "We are older and need a new look."
Fox Hills Mall, however, is not on a losing track, Laslo said. Although he declined to provide sales figures, Laslo said that sales did not decrease this year from last year.
While the other newer malls cater mostly to high fashion and "a lot of glitter," Fox Hills customers are attracted by its closeness to freeways and adequate parking space, he said.
Patricia Manning, the mall's marketing director, said that Fox Hills is trying to keep up with new marketing techniques for shopping malls, in which activities such as cooking demonstrations and prize drawings are co-sponsored by the mall and outside companies to entertain and attract consumers.
Manning said that while most promotion campaigns in malls last about 17 days, the 30-day limit under the new law will give Fox Hills the flexibility to plan longer shows allowed in other Westside malls.
"We have had to take programs and repackage them for Fox Hills to make them available for our customers. We wanted to make available those shows that are available in other cities," she said.