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Salt Lake's busy 3 malls each offer unique shopping experience (+photos)

Published: Friday, Nov. 23 2012 5:02 p.m. MST

"We had more traffic than expected. A lot of our stores were just so thrilled with the amount of people that showed up this year," she said. "We're not surprised really. Now, downtown has more to offer."

And like the other malls, Fraser said The Gateway has shops that can only be found there.

"We have about 40 local retailers that not a lot of places have. We have more of those type of retailers here than you can't get anywhere else," Fraser said.

She said what also sets The Gateway apart from the other malls is that is has more restaurant and entertainment options, such as the Megaplex theater.

Shoppers like Erica Halverson admit they went to The Gateway partially because they thought they would be avoiding the larger crowds at City Creek. But also because there are stores there that meet her needs.

"I have specific stores that I want to go to that aren't at City Creek. City Creek is all the expensive stores," she said.

Halverson also spent time at Walmart at midnight before heading to The Gateway.

"I've never seen so many people at Walmart. It was crazy. It was people lined up for a mile long and people had like three TVs in their shopping carts. It was wild. I was kind of scared for my life, to be honest. It was pretty crazy," she said.

Likewise, Sierra Conklin was out at midnight. Conklin, who is from Australia, had never experienced a Black Friday before.

"I've never heard of people getting up at 12 o'clock at night and lining up for hours just to go shopping. I got coerced into going last night and I had never experienced anything like that in my life," she said. "It was kind of exciting. Just having people line up and kind of pushing and shoving and all excited about deals. It was definitely unusual. It was fun, though. I loved it."

Conklin, who is assistant manager at the newly opened Called To Surf store at The Gateway, also loved the fact that the strong shopper interest extended to her store.

"I love it. Since it's my first Black Friday, I wasn't sure what to expect. But it's actually a lot of fun. I prefer things when they're busy. And having the constant stream of people in all the time, it's exciting. I love it. I wish it was Black Friday everyday," she said.

"Its been amazing. We've had so many people come in. Most people are coming out with at least one item. And the sales are so insane right now. It's been crazy. It's been difficult but amazing."

Wardell said the City Creek Center has become a destination shopping area for residents not only in Utah, but surrounding states like Idaho and Wyoming. And business at City Creek, she said, will only help the entire downtown Salt Lake City area.

"What we've learned is that City Creek Center has helped to create a shopping destination for all of downtown," she said. "City Creek Center has exceeded expectations and it's helping downtown Salt Lake City to thrive as well."

A recent study by the Downtown Business Alliance, according to Wardell, showed that 46 percent of people visiting City Creek also planned to visit other shopping areas in downtown Salt Lake. And 52 percent expressed more interest in traveling to the downtown area in general since City Creek opened.

The Downtown Business Alliance is even sponsoring a Jingle Bus,  a shuttle that provides free transportation between The Gateway, Temple Square, Gallivan Plaza and City Creek Center.

Each mall is also offering its own unique holiday decor.

At City Creek, there is a lantern theme in addition to the traditional Christmas tree and holiday fountains. Each "lantern," or booth, is interactive and represents a classic Christmas storybook. There will also be story tellers at City Creek on weekends at designated locations around the mall telling classic Christmas tales. Wardell said City Creek's holiday decor has been two years in the making.

The Gateway is offering its Starry, Starry Nights light show. The Gateway also has its Olympic Fountain turned into a Christmas theme with music by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

At Trolley Square, there are also Christmas decorations. Their Christmas Open House is Dec. 1 and includes a classic Christmas movie in the forum area.

"There's kind of a Dickens feel at Trolley you don't find anywhere else," Farr said. "People come to Trolley Square if they want something unusual, a little nicer product, and the service here is better, because we're so much community oriented."

"We like the fact that it's different. Our customers come here rather than going to the big box retailers because they can enjoy themselves more. It's not as crowded, we really focus on customer service and spending time with each one of them," Bradley added. "My core customer base is as solid as ever. They went down and investigated City Creek, looked around and are coming back here because we're not there. They can't find the same things there."

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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