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January 19th, 2013Q&A: An Uncommon Eastern Hills Mall Revival

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by Sharon Cantillon

Williamsville, NY – In just four years, Eastern Hills Mall’s identity has changed. It’s gone from a retail befuddlement – a struggling, low-occupancy mall seated in the area’s highest household income demographic – to a resurgent shopping center, boasting popular brands and no store vacancies.

The transformation is so dramatic that even had to reverse its panning of the Clarence mall from years ago. Russ Fulton, a Hamburg native, who spent 20 years at Walden Galleria as marketing director, became the general manager of the mall on Transit Road four years ago. He’s mixed national retailers with local, encouraged retailers to carry the most-wanted brands; brought in services and entertainment, creating a community hall with a DMV, SPCA, blood donation center and a locally owned theater.

On his watch, the mall went from 60 tenants to full capacity of 90 stores, 30 percent of them locally owned; and annual mall traffic has increased by 20 percent to 4.5 million.

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