Thirty years later, MOA's wow factor remains contagious, says Renslow.
On August 11, 1992, Mall of America opened in Bloomington, Minn., and upped the ante on what an enclosed retail space should be. Continually raising those stakes has been the life’s work of Jill Renslow.
Twenty-five years ago, Renslow, an event marketing major at St. Cloud State University who aspired to work at Disney World, began a marketing internship at the nation’s largest mall. As her internship was about to end, a coordinator’s position was offered to her at MOA. She took it and never left. Ta-ta, Orlando!
“When we first opened 30 years ago, people were so curious to come inside and see this new transformation that the Ghermezians had brought to life,” said Renslow, now the executive VP of business development and marketing at the Triple Five property. “The wow factor became contagious. We set the bar high as to what’s possible in retail centers.”
A hundred thousand people a day flock to MOA, and today an even bigger crowd is expected to take part in its birthday celebration and grab gifts such as a Pepsi can commemorating the event designed by Minnesota muralist Adam Turman.
The Ghermezians didn’t hesitate to take advantage of Renslow’s event marketing talents, involving her in many of the unique deals the property’s done over the years to set itself apart from the crowd and take the best advantage of the more than 5 million sq. ft. that comprises MOA. In a mall, she achieved her goal for a Disney-esque experience, working with Nickelodeon on the branding and design of their theme park.
Renslow, indeed, may be one of the busiest event promoters in the nation, having been involved in the planning and production of some 10,000 events that featured acts like The Beach Boys and Mariah Carey over the last three decades. Without question, however, her favorite MOA event is one that happens every year.
“I love Black Friday,” Renslow said. “I get up at the crack of dawn and get to the property and thousands of people are lined up, people from all over the world. We have live music and giveaways. Black Friday just has something special about it.”
While Renslow figures that today, August 11, 2022, will be another special MOA day, she was just as specific with the date of her baddest day in Bloomington: March 17, 2020.
“It was Saint Patrick’s Day and we got a call to close down because of COVID. We sat around a boardroom table and made calls to notify guests and tenants. But the first conversation we had was about how we were going to re-open,” Renslow recalled. “We shifted gears quickly and talked about how we could allocate our space to people who needed it during the pandemic. We dedicated space to a school that had burnt down. We invited the Red Cross to use the mall as a vaccination center. More than 200,000 people have been vaccinated at Mall of America.”
Renslow’s very glad her entire career has been spent in her home state of Minnesota and not Florida. “Aside from winter, Minnesota is one of the most beautiful places in the country to be in spring, summer, and fall,” she said.
And by staying home, she feels she’s become part of another family.
“It has been great working with the Ghermezians. The decision-making power and support we have from the family is amazing,” she said. “Not only did they have vision to create a center that draws 40 million people a year, but they also are passionate about bringing entrepreneurs and small local businesses into Mall of America and giving them opportunities.”
The Ghermezians too, no doubt, are happy that they didn’t let go of that college intern 25 years ago.