2021's Top 10 Retail Experiences: No. 3 Galleria Dallas

Chain Store Age picks physical retail's most engaging centers
Al Urbanski

Alright, let’s get right down to the nitty-gritty of this retail experience shenanigans, shall we? What is the retail experience that most people demand be just right?  Emotional, even. Memorable. Colorful. Joyful. (Gettin’ it yet?) Merry?

Christmas, of course. Give families dusty decorations they’ve seen for years, crackly carols on PA systems, skinny Santas with droopy fake beards, and they will abandon you as fast as Simon handed Atlanta’s Town Center at Cobb mall back to the bank this year. And one thing the Galleria Dallas mall intends to do—no matter what the world throws in its way—is give its loyal customers the best darned Christmas south of the North Pole.

“We have a 95-foot-tall Christmas tree that we place in the middle of our skating rink. It has 450,000 lights, 12,000 ornaments. A team of 80 people work five days to put it up, and more people skate around it than skate around the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center,” said Chuck Steelman, VP of experience, programming, and partnerships for Trademark, the Texas-based developer that owner UBS Realty investors hired in 2018 to renovate and manage one of Dallas’s most beloved malls.

2020’s pandemic-primed “Snow Day Dallas” was comprised of 12 holiday-themed scenes. Guests were given bracelets to activate photos of their poses. Kids entering the premises were handed Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer face masks to help engage them in the Christmas spirit. The event ran for five weeks and drew 16,000 visitors from 770 Zip Codes.

Respectfully honoring the stature of the Galleria Dallas Christmas tree was just one perfunctory duty the Trademark team performed to help restore the reputation of this long-hallowed public place. It also set off on a full-scale, 21st Century class-up of the mall built in 1982. Among the enhancements:

• Hand-cut Italian marble and wood to refurbish the mall whose architectural design was inspired by Galleria Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest active shopping center.  

• Partnered with Fashion Group of Dallas on a gallery wall in which 60 designers and celebrities—including fashion designer Lela Rose, Dallas Cowboy Troy Aikman, and actress Angie Harmon—produced one-of-a-kind face masks that were auctioned off.

• On Juneteenth weekend, a Black Fashion Movement pop-up shop featured 13 black-owned brands from across the U.S. and four Dallas-based companies that included Aisha McShaw, Serita Jakes Home, Kendall Miles, and Keva J Swim.

“We really approached the pandemic as an opportunity to innovate,” Steelman said. “We found we were able to pivot a lot of traditional events even when events weren’t happening.”

Stay tuned for daily profiles of the next seven centers. Until then, catch up on what you missed:

No. 1 Easton Town Center
No. 2 American Dream

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