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Louis Joliet Mall has seen many changes in the last 40 years since first opening in 1978 at 3340 Mall Loop Drive—retail stores have come and gone, the mall has changed hands and the area’s population has grown and diversified. But one constant in the last four decades has been Louis Joliet’s reputation as a premiere area shopping destination.

Today, Louis Joliet Mall is managed by Starwood Retail Partners, a platform that has taken pride in maintaining and improving on the mall’s exceptional reputation. At just shy of a million square feet, Louis Joliet Mall has shopping, dining and entertainment options for the whole family. The enclosed, one-level center houses over 90 stores and kiosks, including four anchors (Sears, JCPenney, Carson’s and Macy’s), a spacious 400-plus seat food court and a 14 screen Cinemark theater.

Shoppers will recognize brand-name stores such as H&M, New York & Company, Charlotte Russe and Pandora. Recently, Starwood has also welcomed new businesses to the mall, including Fashion 5, Elegant Fashion, urban retailer J-Bees and Gloria Jeans Coffee. And of course, a visit to the Louis Joliet Mall wouldn’t be complete without taking a shopping break to check out the “digital” ficus tree in the mall’s center court; this interactive “DigiTree” is adorned with more than 100 LCD panels and LED pendants that display community news and mall events.

Indeed, while the mall’s retail and entertainment offerings are impressive, it’s the environment at Louis Joliet that truly sets it apart from the competition. Upon entering the mall, patrons are welcomed into a vibrant, brightly lit, fun shopping environment. Stores are clean. Employees are friendly. There’s a general positive energy that permeates the facility. More than the sum of its retail stores, Starwood Retail Partners has worked hard to improve and redefine the mall experience at Louis Joliet by creating a shopping destination that is also a family-friendly, community space. According to Starwood Marketing Director Sandy Martinez, 44 percent of Louis Joliet Mall visitors are families with kids 18 and under – way above industry standard, which is typically 30 to 34 percent.

“That’s huge because we know that we’re in an area that’s growing, we’re in an area where there are lots of parents looking for things to do with their kids,” Martinez said.

With kids, families and safety in mind, Starwood implemented a youth supervision policy in 2017 that requires adult supervision for kids 17 and under on Friday and Saturday nights. In partnership with the Plainfield Park District, Louis Joliet Mall also offers a free MallStars Kids Club once a month for children under 10. At MallStars, kids can take part in seasonal activities and crafts, win prizes and take photos with their favorite characters.

Other family-focused mall events include a back-to-school fashion show, a prom fashion show and seasonal photo opportunities with Santa and the Easter Bunny. In 2018, Starwood also plans to launch a Live 360 program with community partners to bring even more interactive activities to Louis Joliet Mall. Live 360 programs might include a hospital visiting to talk about healthy eating, or a local fitness instructor leading a morning Zumba class for mall walkers.

Starwood also partners with national charitable organizations to organize events that give back to the community. Throughout the year, Red Cross blood drives usually see a large turnout at the mall. Then, during the holidays, Louis Joliet Mall participates in The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program where mall patrons can grab gift-wish tags and bring back presents for needy children.

Additionally, Louis Joliet Mall makes an effort to partner with local nonprofit organizations and charities. In recent years, the mall supported The Little Footprints Foundation (LFF), a Naperville-based nonprofit that aids children who have lost one or both parents in an automobile accident. During the holidays, Magnum Insurance sponsored a breakfast for Santa at the mall where LFF kids were able to meet Santa and receive Christmas presents.

With nonprofit partnerships, community events, kids activities and new retail stores, it’s exciting to watch the ways the Louis Joliet Mall continues to evolve to meet the needs of the community.

“We’ve created a wholesome, save environment for families,” Martinez said. “We want people to come enjoy shopping, enjoy our events, sit in our food court, enjoy the offerings that we have and come back time and time again.”