There’s already a sleek new logo in bright, breezy colors.
And starting on April 29th, Friday nights at the mall will feature dance and music performances, which Tosi has been promoting on Facebook with a set of slickly-produced videos. He’s hired several talented but “at-risk” teenagers from his nonprofit to work for him.
Tosi, who was born in American Samoa but grew up in Anchorage, is mostly known for his contributions to the nonprofit world. It’s time, he says, to show people that he can do business as well.
“They knew I was a credible, energetic and passionate about this community but also willing to go into a business mindset,” Tosi said of his new employers.
The company’s Tracy DeBruler said Security National Properties doesn’t make comments to the media regarding mall properties. He did say that they were “excited” to have Tosi onboard.
“We know he’s a super star,” DeBruler said.
One of the biggest challenges Tosi says he’ll face is helping the mall overcome a persistent image problem.
“The perception of this mall is unsafe, low-income,” he said. “We want to change those things.”
For one former tenant, it's too late.
Around Christmas of 2010, Vern Felt, the owner of David’s Jewelers, closed his longtime Northway Mall store and moved to a new location the Tikhatnu Commons.
The decision was partly because he’d always wanted a freestanding store. But it was also because the mall was becoming a harder and harder place to do business.
“It was just the only people that were coming in were people that could walk to the mall,” Felt said. “There were no cars in the parking lot, so there was no money in the parking lot.”
He’s not sure that Tosi will have a major impact on the mall’s fortunes. The biggest issue, he says, is getting a replacement for the Gottschalks anchor store.
While rumors that Planet Fitness might move in have swirled among mall retailers, the space still stands empty.
With lower rents than the Dimond Mall and chain stores vanishing, new, small-scale entrepreneurs have been able to set up shop in the mall.
Ten months ago, Fatima “Tee” Exum opened her shop, Braids by Tee, in a sunny space near the front doors. Her business philosophy: Give the people what they want. She offers popular $10 haircuts and is building a growing clientele.
“People say, the mall is going down," she said. "Well, it’s not going down for me.”
Still, she says, the more traffic the better. If Tosi’s plans for weekend events like Polynesian dance workshops and violin performances bring in more potential customers, that’s fine by her.
Tosi says he wants the stores to reflect the people they serve. But he also wants to woo more national chains back.
Tobin Parent and his family have been Northway Mall tenants for more than 15 years. Their business, Excalibur Sports, sells professional sports team logo gear, a niche so specific that their location is beside the point, he says.
He’s known Tosi since he was a standout high school football player.
Whatever direction he takes the mall in, Parent says tenants want Tosi to do one thing:
“Bring people,” Parent said, “back to the mall.”