Marley Station Mall offering incentives to young shoppers


Although teen-agers rarely need incentives to visit shopping malls, Marley Station will be offering a group of Anne Arundel students cash for coming to the mall once a month.

The students are members of two youth advisory boards the mall has created to solicit teen-agers' opinions on the mall. In addition to paying the students $10 for each meeting they attend, Marley Station also will give the students career and business advice.

"They are an important part of our consumer base," said Ed Ladd, Marley Station's general manager.

After meeting with county school officials, Mr. Ladd said the mall decided to form two advisory boards -- one for high school students and one for middle school students.

The high school board is made up of 15 students, the middle school board 24. Most of the students were chosen by their school's student government.

The boards will meet separately once a month after school for 90 minutes. The students will hear speakers on retailing and other career choices and give their views on teen-age tastes and trends.

The boards had their first meetings two weeks ago. Mr. Ladd said the specific agendas for each meeting will depend largely upon the students' interests.

"We want the program to be theirs," he said.

Mr. Ladd and Marley Station marketing director Roni Septoff said they know of no other programs like this one, but they said it is part of the mall's continuing effort to work with young people.

Mr. Ladd and Ms. Septoff teach a Junior Achievement course at Glen Burnie High School, and the mall will begin offering special buying cards for students who have good attendance or make good grades.

"We want this to be an attractive place for teens," Mr. Ladd said.

School officials said they support the concept of the youth advisory boards. "I think its good the mall is considering its clients," said Midgie Sledge, principal at Glen Burnie High School. "The students are learning that their viewpoints do count."

"I think it's a tremendous idea," said William Wentworth, principal at North County High School. "It gives the kids a feeling of belonging and having some impact."

Kathy McGarry, mother of one of the middle-school participants, agreed that the program seems like a good idea. "It seems like the mall is trying to do something positive for the youth."

Her daughter, Shea, 13, an eighth-grader at Severna Park Middle School, said she was excited about meeting students from other schools and learning more about the mall. "I'm interested in how things work," she said.

Michelle Tewey, a seventh-grader at George Fox Middle School and another advisory board member, said she was surprised to be asked to participate in the program, but said she thought it would be fun. "I like the clothes . . . and they will get to listen to our opinions."

Michelle said she didn't have any particular opinions about Marley Station yet, but would wait to find out more about it before offering her views.

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