Water returned to Warwick Mall yesterday and in the words of Aram Garabedian, the mall’s managing partner, it’s the “biggest wow of them all.”
Gabedian dubbed the mall “Wow-wick Mall” after its comeback from the March floods of 2010 that left it under more than three feet of water. But now, just a few hundred gallons of water shot from 9,000 nozzles to create curtains, fountains and mist and hundreds of lasers brought together for an even bigger splash.
The show, which, in fact, is named “Splash,” is the marketing tool for the mall’s newest tenant, Jordan’s Furniture.
“I could run all the ads in the newspapers and on television, but this will bring more people,” Eliot Tatelman, whose grandfather and father started the company in 1918, said at the conclusion of the 15-minute presentation. Jordan’s occupies the former Old Navy space (plus the second floor to the store that hasn’t been occupied since the days of Caldor).
All told, the store has 115,000 square feet, including the Splash theater that can accommodate 350. Shows are every hour on the hour and, as Tatelman told more than 200 invited guests for the premier, the company will make it available to non-profits for fundraising events.
That’s an aspect that Mayor Scott Avedisian highlighted at the opening. He said Jordan’s is not only known for its furniture, but also as a community partner. He talked of the company’s work in the community adding, “It shows that they are not just here to make money.”
The mayor also talked about the Warwick Mall and its “ups and downs” and how, following the flood, it renewed its commitment and investment to the city. It doesn’t stop with Jordan’s either. Next Wednesday, another announcement will be made at the mall in what Garabedian called a “ground-broken ceremony.” His wording is appropriate, for as Jordan’s doors opened, heavy equipment tore apart a section of parking lot just south of the store for the foundation for an as-yet-unnamed prospective tenant and Garabedian wouldn’t let that cat out of the bag.
The buzz, no question, was Jordan’s.
Garabedian said the store means more jobs and, just as important, “more convenience for Warwick Mall shoppers.” He said the store and the water and laser light show puts “the mall at its height.”
This is Jordan’s sixth store, and its first in Rhode Island. It already has stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
The opening had an emotional moment when Tatelman prepared to address those assembled in the theater waiting area. After saying his grandfather and father started the store, he lost his voice and his eyes brimmed with tears. As his wife came forward to be at his side, in a shaky voice he said, “I’m very proud.”
He quickly regained his composure.
“This company is not me; a team of people put this store together.” He called up family members including sons Josh, who handles merchandizing, and Michael, who runs daily operations.
“Business is one thing and working with family is something else,” he said in apparent appreciation of his situation. He also expressed his appreciation to financier Warren Buffet, whose company Berkshire Hathaway bought Jordan’s in 1999. Tatelman said he doubts whether Buffet knows of the store opening or, for that matter, the Splash show. Yet, he added, that Berkshire Hathaway allows him to run the store like a family.
Entertainment is a trademark of Jordan’s. One store has a 600-seat Imax theater and another was the first place to use motion simulators, even before they arrived at Disney World, Tatelman said.
Tatelman said the concept for Splash was born from the Redding store water show and the Avon store laser show. He said there is nothing like it. He said the theater required unique technical requirements, including a chiller for the water that must be kept at 42 degrees, which is on the mall roof to prevent condensation on the bubble enclosures for the lasers. The show is projected on five water curtains.
Asked if it was more than coincidence that the show was named Splash, Tatelman said, “Oh, you mean because this is the Ocean State?”
It just shows that even a flood said to be of biblical proportions can be forgotten.