As everyone knows, Santa Monica is one of the biggest tourist magnets on the West Coast. What hasn't been as clear is the role is playing in drawing outsiders to the city.
On Saturday, Santa Monica Place . Unlike the old mall, the new, outdoor iteration features restaurants with ocean views. It boasts more high-end stores than it used to: Gone are Macy’s and Robinson’s May; in their stead are and . Also, the new mall features , which houses independently owned gourmet food stores and a cooking school.
Recently, Santa Monica Patch spoke with a random sampling of tourists visiting the mall. Judging by their reactions, tourists are enjoying the establishment, which was intended to be not only a locus for businesses but also a place where visitors can appreciate the city itself.
“I think it’s a good tourist location because it’s close to the , the and Third Street,” said Long Beach resident Lindsay Barrania, who came to the mall to show it off to her visiting friend Susana Flores.
Flores said that, though there are similar malls in her hometown in Monterrey, Mexico, “There aren’t a lot of places where you can go to the beach and then shop.”
Mother-and-daughter duo Shannon and Savanna Storm said Santa Monica Place is completely different than what they're used to seeing in their home state, North Carolina.
“It’s huge compared to our malls,” Savanna said.
“It’s nice that even when you’re not shopping, there are other things to do, like [go to] and ,” Shannon added.
Rae Jackman, who was visiting from Scotland, said she and her husband “happened to wander to the mall by luck.”
“It’s nice to come to a mall that’s outside,” he said, noting that Scotland weather is not as beautiful as California’s.
Unlike Scotland stores, “All the stories are varied” at the Santa Monica mall, Jackman said. “There are expensive ones and affordable ones. … It’s a really nice place to shop.”
Another out-of-towner had a differing view.
“Price-wise, the is more affordable," said Torre Price, a 19-year-old San Diego native. "But the mall still has some stores that are worth browsing.”
One of Santa Monica Place's more affordable stores is , one of the only stores that was also in the old mall. Other stores that were once a part of the mall—such as and —migrated to the promenade.
“For a while, business wasn’t where it needed to be because many people didn’t know we were still in the mall,” said an employee who asked not to be named. “But once they realized we were here, it got better.”
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