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Topic: Working in Malls
Message: Posted by: Mental_Mike (Feb 2, 2004 12:02PM)
I was wondering if a mall would pay someone to go around and do magic for people in the food court and around the mall. anyone do it and get paid?
Message: Posted by: Eric Starkey (Feb 2, 2004 02:01PM)
When I was in Pittsburgh I worked for an agent who had an agreement with the local mall. Regretfully, I did close-up in the food court. It sucks big time!

The ONLY brightside was that by doing the occassional food court strolling, it kept the agent happy and I still got to do the stage shows at the mall.

My advice:
I would NEVER intentionally work at a mall food court or seek out this type of a gig. Been there, done that - it sucks!
Message: Posted by: wizardofsorts (Feb 2, 2004 04:09PM)
Hey Eric, another former Pittsburgher here. I'm pretty sure I worked for that same agent and did that same mall. I didn't do much in the food court. I strolled the benches and where ever I saw people waiting for someone. I didn't think it was that bad. Stage shows at malls are definatly better but there may be a market for strolling in your area.
visit the Wizard of Sorts at http://www.wizardofsorts.com
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Feb 2, 2004 05:35PM)
Its hard work because, like often in restaurants, people assume if you have to work in a mall, you are very good. It is very hard to build atomsphere.

However, you do meet interesting people and can have a lot fun.

But the pay sucks and the work is hard!
Message: Posted by: Texas Worker (Feb 2, 2004 06:43PM)
Mall work as opposed to resturant work is much different.People in food courts are rushing and have either had an exhausting day fighting mall traffic or are about to. Where as resturant goers want to be there for a nice meal and atmosphere. Unless you are getting a good check or if you could have a set spot where people come to you, I would avoid it like the plauge.
Message: Posted by: briansmagic (Feb 2, 2004 07:29PM)
How do stage shows work in malls? Where do you do them, what is the occasion, and what is the pay like? Is it okay doing stage vs closeup in a mall?
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Feb 2, 2004 09:09PM)
Stage shows in Malls have disappeared with the ecomomy. I was big back in the 1980's but by 1983 they have been dropped, at least that is what our mall's have done. Plus, the magicians I knew who did them, no longer do them.

You must put on a very good show. You must have professional advertisement and photo. You must spend the money. Back in the 80's you could get $900 to $1200 for a 3 or 4 appearance per week.

Then a number of mall owners started the policy of only free events be allowed to perform, such as local charities and radio station sponsered events. Malls are owned by larger holding companies in Chicago and NY. You must contact the local Mall Manager and he will contact Headquarter on your behalf.

A market long gone by, if you can revive it you will make a lot of magicians happy.

Let us know how you do, it is a market we all miss. Didn't Britney Spears get her singing career started in Malls?

Bill :fyi:
Message: Posted by: ricker (Feb 2, 2004 11:34PM)
>>Didn't Britney Spears get her singing career started in Malls?

No, that was Tiffany.
Message: Posted by: Steven Steele (Feb 3, 2004 12:26AM)
I did a show for a mall for Christmas. They wanted Santa to appear and weren't willing to do anything (like move the piano off of the stage in the food court). The mall was a pretty recent construction and the acoustics were absolutely abismal. Sound systems simply did not work as every bit of sound richocheted everwhere.

It was a pretty good show and I had lots of good feedback, I know the management wasn't happy, but they had high expectations and wanted to spend next to nothing.

In the 80's I worked several malls with a similar show and had a great time. But the malls are different today and the management is too.

Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Feb 3, 2004 03:49AM)

Thanks, I knew it was some good looking girl. I don't keep up on singers, there is as many singer today as new magic tricks on the market.

I would like to add that the Mall expect you to have a full stage setting, they will usually put up a portable stage if they do not have a perminent one. You are expected to have your own sound system. The best quality is MONO sound not stereo. That make it easier when the sound bounces all over the place as Steve experienced.

My friend took 2 years to put a very good Mall show together, but he soon found out the market was dead.

Hope this help you in your approach to this market.

Message: Posted by: MagicalPirate (Feb 3, 2004 01:07PM)
The outlook for malls is that they are going away anyways. They are too high priced and the demographics that made them work in the first place is no longer there. So even if we were to get the market going again it wouldn't last all that long.

Martin :pirate:
Message: Posted by: Steve Hart (Feb 3, 2004 01:57PM)
Hi Mental Mike,

Yes you can and yes it has been done. Sometimes the mall will pay you and other times the food court may be owned separately. If so they would pay you.

I agree that a small stage show will work better but you do the work that fits you best.

Steve Hart
Cape Canaveral, FL USA
Message: Posted by: C Christian (Feb 10, 2004 02:14PM)
I agree with Steve, I've done a mall and I treated it more like street performing and befor you know it. I had 4-10 rows deep (depending on the day). But when I had to do the food court it just wasn't worth it. Think about it their there with fast food kids running around people looking for a seat. Yikes I am glad those days are behind me.
Cheers Chris
Message: Posted by: themagician64 (Feb 11, 2004 02:22AM)
I recently did a few mall shows. I had to work in the round! Wow!! They also require you to have your own insurance. I did a great show with about 500 people having a great time! I then was asked to bring in Santa! I did, had about a thousand people and made it snow in the mall for the big guy. To make a long story short I thought I would be doing this for years, well they replaced me with dancing ginger bread people because the employees were already on the payroll and the local newspaper cut me out of the photo for a larger photo of santa. What a bad deal! I did make good money for the time I was there!
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Feb 11, 2004 08:53AM)
Yes, malls do require you to have insurance and I am finding a lot of the larger venues are asking for it as well. This is why I now just got my million dollar liability insurance from the SAM. If you guys have not done so, it might be something to look into. It really does prtect you and is a must for mall work.

That is sad that it happened like that. I would still try and touch base with them in your marketing and build a relationship with them. You might be able to offer other solutions for them that meet their need for the coming year. If you can listen to their needs and come up with magical solutions for them, then you become in demand and their perception of your value will also increase.

Just food for thought.

Message: Posted by: themagician64 (Feb 12, 2004 11:39PM)
Thanks Kyle,

Yes, we are working on that. I do believe they will need me again, especially as competition becomes greater, "Newer Malls in the Area"! I stop by just to chit chat from time to time to keep me in their minds.
No sale per say just that I was in the area and wanted to say hello, hope sales are good,etc.Top of the mind
awareness, you know.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Jul 20, 2004 09:51AM)
I agree with Bill.

In the late 70s and much of the 80s working malls (Never in the Food Courts) was a very popular source of employment for professional magicians. The pay was fair ($250-600 a show) and you could often work three malls a day within 75 miles of each other. Montgomery, Alabama is my hometown and was the home office of three major mall developers. I work very consistently with a company (not in Montgomery) that owned 52 malls in the USA at that time. I was also free to work other malls outside of a reasonable area (30 minutes away). The photography companies paid for two shows a year in each major mall to bring the Santa and the Easter Bunny to the mall for children's pictures. The magician magically presented the Santa or Bunny and they led the kids to the photo concession at the end of the magic show. Those days are gone.

There were real stages, PA systems, and extensive publicity. The purpose was to get a crowd of shoppers into the mall. Shows were short so the shoppers could get back to shopping. A show was 15-20 minutes maximum. It was a big deal. It made the papers every time.

There were several real themes that would keep you as busy as you would accept. The off-season was from January to March. There were Spring Fashion Shows, School's out Shows, July 4th Shows, Back to school and Labor Day Shows, Fall / Halloween Shows, and Christmas Shopper Shows. I would appear in the same malls two to four times a year. There were 542 malls in my regional database.

Things change. Today mall managers are more into security and maintenance and less like marketing managers. When the neighborhoods changed, so did the malls, mall management, the customers and the stores in them. Malls now are frequently centers for crime and hanging out. Families no longer shop together in them and it is up to the individual merchants to get customers into the stores. Merchants that have new walk-in stores now put them in new strip centers with more visibility and less common area maintenance to pay. The overall trend is toward non-store retailing. Otherwise, there is WalMart.

Simply put, I am not into the Food Court magic business. It does not appear to be remotely like the mall work I once enjoyed. Restaurant magic would also seem quite different from Food Court magic. Self-service operations are seldom attractive to high tippers or paid entertainment. It may be a great place to learn.

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Jul 21, 2004 10:03AM)
Many years ago I was contacted by a mall to put together a magic show as part of a second-birthday promotion named "The Magic World of Values." I designed a stage, complete with backstage area, and they built it right at one of the major intersections. They did all the promotion, newspaper ads (including one clip saying I'd do "Houdini's needle trick"), posters, and so on, and the thing went over very well.

What made the show work (and why the mall put so much work into it) was... ta dahhh... that it was part of a sales promotion. Maybe this would be a good approach even today.
Message: Posted by: Gordon (Jul 23, 2004 11:16AM)
In the 80s I was part of a mall "Late-Night Magic Sale" where all the stores stayed open late with special sales. Several (a half-dozen) magicians were hired to perform throughout the common areas. There were two performance stages and about 4 strolling close up performers.

One of the stages was mine, I did 3 shows during the night. The mall management wanted the shows kept short, no more than 10 minutes, so the shoppers wouldn't linger too long.

All in all, it was good gig. But not successful enough from the mall's perspective to repeat again. I heard that the stores didn't make enough extra sales to justify staying open a couple hours later than usual.

That was 20 years ago (gulp!) and now that mall has been torn down due to dwindling interest. (Ogden City Mall, in Ogden, Utah)
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jul 23, 2004 06:47PM)
I perform at about 100 shopping centre stages shows each year.

They can be good at very profitable but you do need to make sure that you understand the client's needs. Perhaps more then any other client. Here would be my tips.

1) Talk to all of the store holders near the stage area. They are the ones who pay your bill so its best to make them your friends

2) Combine your show with an existing promotion. If there isn't one then make your own. I usually do a "Tricky Nick [Insert Shopping Centre Name] colouring challenge" I give out sheets at the end of the show and give a magic kit to the best one. I means I get a whole lot of sales leads and the centres love the extra value.

3) FORGOT about doing tricks with angles. 99% of the time it just won't happen. I once saw a sydney magician do a metamorphis on the lower floor of a five story shopping centre in the centre drum. The top four levels could see right down inside the cloth during the change!

4) Make sure the mall provides seats for the adults and a carpet at the front for the kids. They often will provide a security guard as well. (i've had kid's dropping rubbish onto the audiences from the upper levels.

5) Avoid food courts for shows. People are there to eat and won't sit through a show. I've done shows NEAR the food court so people can watch but also had a clearly defined audience space. Also make sure you stage isn't in the middle of throurugh fare.