Mall general manager calls first year a ‘home run’

Scott Green has long had an interest in and appreciation for the old Pine Bluff minor league baseball clubs, which may explain in part why he sometimes speaks in terms associated with the sport.

Green, who is completing his first year as general manager of The Pines shopping mall here this week, described his job experience as a “home run.”

“This job is so rewarding you can’t even imagine,” he said. “I absolutely love my job. It’s exciting and satisfying to be part of the revitalization of my home area. This town is full of good people, and I’m happy to be here.”

Green, a White Hall native, said his enthusiasm about the community is shared by the mall owner, Andy Weiner of Houston, Texas. Weiner — president of Weiner Development — purchased the mall on Dec. 29, 2011, and Green started his job just over a month later.

A former USA Drug store manager, Green said he was so impressed with comments made by Weiner when the mall transaction was announced that he decided to contact Weiner about a job.

“I knew I wanted to work for him,” Green said.

Weiner’s and Green’s passion for the mall community is evidenced by a number of improvements Green has overseen under Weiner’s direction. A number of security enhancements have been implemented, including a more visible and readily available security force with law enforcement support. Strategicall -placed security cameras are in operation as well.

“It’s safe here, and we’re dedicated to ensuring that safety,” Green said.

Green said The Pines has also received a cosmetic facelift that included some physical improvements.

Additionally, Green is taking extra steps to making The Pines more of a community-friendly gathering place. Green said he has a goal of having the mall host at least two or three public activities each month, and more if possible. He said non-profit and church groups can schedule activities there at no charge. Fees will be assessed, however, on other facility and/or mall equipment usage.

Green figures public usage of The Pines increases the community’s sense of “ownership” of the facility as “their” mall.

“It’s about attracting customers,” Green said. Among public activities on tap this month are a heart walk, jazz show, community band concert and a church program.

Weiner and Green established a goal of attracting three new stores to the mall in 2012. They wound up with six — all local ventures: Cooks Fish and Soul Food, J&J Java and Smoothies, Jack and Jill Fun Zone, Party Pizazz, Rozy’s Eyebrow Threading and The University Shop.

“We’re aiming for five new businesses this year,” Green said, adding he would like to again double his goal. He’s especially hopeful of netting a children’s store and more women’s clothing firms.

“We would like to get another national store here, but it’s fantastic that we got the six locals,” Green said, noting that a growing presence of local operations could be a factor in landing a national chain location to go along with the current Dillard’s, JCPenney and Sears anchors.

“We’re always seeking local, regional and national tenants,” he said.

Word is circulating, too, that The Pines’ customer traffic and sales are increasing. Green said Rogers Jewelers has exceeded its sales goal 34 consecutive months, Dillards’ local store topped the company’s Black Friday sales and the JCPenney store here is one of only four of the company’s locations to be receiving an upgrade.

“Our holiday traffic was the best it’s been in years, according to our merchants,” Green said.

Green insists that neither he nor Weiner are surprised by the economic upturn.

“Andy and I are sold on Pine Bluff,” said Green. “We believe this town is rebounding, and bringing back this mall is a part of that.”