A phenomenon of postwar America, changing the look of the land as well as the style of living for millions of families, has been the development of modern shopping centers. For many of you their extraordinary convenience and casualness have been a happy and familiar experience for some time. But perhaps you'll be surprised to learn that just in October, November and December of 1956 suburban centers opened 12 million square feet of selling space, which more than doubled all such space previously in use.
Like convenience and casualness, sport too has become a characteristic of contemporary suburban life. That explains why this year, during SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S third annual Sports and Vacation Carnival—in which leading retailers in every major U.S. market are participating—four important suburban shopping centers are the scenes for an unusual series of promotional events: The SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Summer Sports Festivals.
The first of these, a three-day program at Gimbels in Cheltenham, outside Philadelphia, took place two weeks ago and turned out for its sponsors to be a dramatic demonstration of the almost limitless possibilities of "selling with sport."
Built around outstanding sports personalities like Bob Mathias, Otto Graham, Doug Ford, Jackie Robinson, Bob Clotworthy and George Mikan; with special display material furnished by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED; with numerous booths exhibiting advertisers' products in live fashion shows and presentations; and a crowded schedule of special events—the entire sports-oriented program set the theme for this shopping center for the summer months ahead.
Last week Marshall Field & Co., The Fair and 25 other retailers, in the new Old Orchard shopping center near Chicago, joined with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in a similar show; on June 5 another begins at Gimbels in North Hills, outside Pittsburgh; and the next week at Northland, the 80 tenant center which J. L. Hudson Co. built outside Detroit.
In a note to me about the success of the program at Cheltenham, Mr. Arthur C. Kaufmann, Executive Head of Gimbels, Philadelphia, wrote: "Old as its traditions are, nothing is more contemporary than sport, and nothing more sensibly identifies itself with the color, style and tempo of today's living. And we've just had wonderful evidence at our Cheltenham store that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED helps to make sport the perfect setting for selling."