St. Clair Square Mall opened in Fairview Heights, IL in 1974 and has become a popular superregional shopping destination. But throughout its four decades of operation, the mall had never offered an indoor play area to the community. As soon as General Manager Michael Hagen took the helm in November 2014, he decided to find a sponsor and create a play area.
“I thought it was really surprising that a center of this size and demographics didn’t have a play area for families,” says Hagen. “So that was the top thing on my list when I arrived last year. But we needed a sponsor who would see value in it and who would want to make a positive statement to the community.”
Hagen found HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, which was not only eager to provide a healthy play option for the area’s children, but was also in the middle of a big move and construction project. Hagen says the hospital immediately saw the value in building excitement among families who visit St. Clair Square for the move and state-of-the-art facility.
Armed with a sponsor, Hagen contacted PLAYTIME. He had worked with the global play area provider before and knew the company was up to the task at-hand.
“St. Elizabeth’s wanted a custom play area piece,” says Hagen. “They wanted a replica of the hospital they are building in O’Fallon. We provided PLAYTIME with an artist’s rendering of the hospital they are building and they created an amazing play piece, which includes a tunnel and slide. It’s a phenomenal piece of work.”
Hagen says many of the play area elements are branded with the St. Elizabeth’s logo. There is even a bear holding balloons and each of the hospital network’s core values are written on the balloons and the bear’s chest.
Hagen says families are “thrilled” with the play area and that it has also gotten quite a bit of media attention. The Belleville News-Democrat ran a story after the grand opening on August 7. Two weeks later, local news station KMOV ran a longer segment about the mall, featuring the play area.
Hagen says St. Clair Square tenants near the play area are also pleased.
“All of the comments from tenants have been very positive,” he says. “Several have said, ‘We didn’t know it would be this big with such a great turnout and excitement.’ They have been very pleasantly surprised.”
Hagen has worked with PLAYTIME on previous play areas and had this to say about the company.
“PLAYTIME is one of the most enjoyable companies to work with. Everybody I interacted with was just wonderful. Their excitement and friendliness are palpable. I wish every business I interacted with had the mentality and fun-loving spirit that everybody in PLAYTIME has. It’s amazing. It gets you excited and makes you feel good. That’s the kind of partnership and business that you want to continue to work with for a long time.”