Protesting MacArthur Mall Effectively

Hundreds of young people are angered by MacArthur Mall’s new policy of excluding those under 18 years of age unless chaperoned by a Dirty Old Man or Cougar over 21. Really, what other kind of adult wants to hang at the mall with teens?

In all seriousness though, as an elder Libertarian, it warms my heart to see young people get organized and enthusiastic over almost any issue, as that is the seed from which future political activism will grow. However, ineffective protests lead to apathy if we get the idea that we are helpless to change things, so I will offer a few suggestions to make your activism more effective, and invite others with experience to do so as well.

While the new policy may be unfair, in the real world, fair doesn’t matter much to a business. The Mall is private property, and fair or not, it is within their rights to make their own policy. If you want to get their attention, you have to see the world from their point of view and change what they see. Businesses exist to serve the needs and desires of their customers. But you are not the Mall’s customers, the retail stores and services which are located at the Mall are the actual customers of the Mall. The Mall will respond to their demands, not yours, so, to be successful, you must get those businesses on your side.

So, target your efforts toward the businesses most likely to support your efforts, like the Cinema, food court, young fashion and electronics outlets.  Remind them that you will not be teens forever and that if you establish relationships elsewhere for your shopping and entertainment now, you will not magically return to the Mall when you turn 18.

‘Taking-your-business-elsewhere’ is only effective if the businesses can measure their loss. One way to make that point would be to collect receipts from your group on purchases made elsewhere and periodically deliver them to the managers of the affected stores. Imagine the effect on the Cinema manager if you show up with a box of ticket stubs from other theaters collected from all the displaced teens and tell him you would rather have attended those movies in his theater but were banned.  Imagine the manager of a ‘young fashion’ store looking at a box of receipts for clothing purchased elsewhere and wondering what his commission on those sales might have been.

I’d suggest assigning each of your members a store to contact and everyone saving the receipts and stubs for him to take the that store once a month.

Finally, think a bit about why this policy came to be. The Mall did not come up with the policy lightly. What are some teens doing that they might think discourages other customers? Of course, you have no control over bad behavior by others, but for your own part, when you go to the Mall, try to look like a customer. Businesses welcome customers.  Take care not to make your protests confrontational. If you block access to businesses, that will be seen by the business owners as validating the Mall’s policy.

Good luck, and I sincerely hope this will be the start of a lifelong effort in the public arena. Lastly, I’d like to invite you all to visit with local Libertarians at our monthly meetings. You might well be just the young people we have been waiting for. See for meeting details.


8 Responses to Protesting MacArthur Mall Effectively

  1. Michael says:

    Thank you! I’m sick and tired of all the people on the Pilot website saying that the kids are stupid for wanting to protest.

  2. john davis says:

    Nice article. We often forget when dealing with businesses, voting with our pocketbook is a method to influence change. If enough folks choose NOT to shop at MacArthur Mall, businesses will see their revenue drop and likewise the owners of the mall will see their rent income drop. Maybe then the policy will be re-visted.

  3. A Noun says:

    Gee, no teenagers cluttering the hallways, skateboarding inside and outside, pushing and shoving, shouting insults at random shoppers…My patronage of this mall would increase.

    And by the way, the term for the adult is not “Dirty Old Man” or “Cougar”. It’s parent. As in the people who chose to bring those teenagers into this world but expect the rest of us to raise them.

    Malls have been treated as teenage babysitting clusters for so long, it’s hard to remember that they are a place of business.

    • Ferne says:

      I complete agree with this post. I am a mother and think it is about time that parents take responsiblilty for their kids. Obviously there have been complaints or the rules would not have gone into affect. It is all to common to hear the shouting and rude comments that this person is talking about. I don’t want to be around it, nor do I want my kids exposed to it. At another local mall I had to take my kids out of the play area because there were not any security guards around to control a group of loud and obnoxious kids. No parents around of course. I would prefer a place where parents were managing there own unrully kids and it wasn’t left up to me.

  4. Sarah says:

    Well written! Why shouldn’t people enjoy civil rights simply because they are under the age of 18? Children and teens need to become part of the protected class- we ensure that old people, disabled people, gays, all ethnicities, etc. are protected. This policy would never be directed toward any of those groups. I work right next to MacArthur and have never cared that there were teens hanging out. “A Noun” needs to stop being scared of the kids and let them know they can’t act with disrespect. Like the teens, I will also end my patronage of MacArthur until this policy is lifted.

  5. Dr. Tabor, while I don’t normally see eye-to-eye, I 100% agree with this post.

    I too (although over 18) will end shopping at MacArthur.

    I also think the idea of “show receipts to the manager” is a great idea: Maybe I was doing something in Downtown Norfolk and wanted to watch a movie at Regal; but instead I decide to head to another Regal, save my receipts and – along with others who would’ve gone to Regal MacArthur – show how much money they are losing.

    Also, think about 17 year old high school students who are dual-enrolled at TCC Downtown in the evening. They can’t buy their school books anymore with this policy. See a problem?

  6. scooby doo says:

    I think it would be wise for management to selectively enforce the rules to those that pose a problem and not just check every kids I.D.
    Just a thought.

  7. S says:

    I never considered the “Dirty Old Man” aspect. I wonder which entrance I should set up at?

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