Eastridge mall sees family friendly environment after teen policy change

A culture change welcomed at Eastridge Mall in Gastonia.

"It's very family friendly. There's a lot more people with kids coming in here. They are spending a lot more times in stores and a lot more shopping," said Bonnie Johnson, a store manager Fancave.

It was a different story just one year ago, kids and teens were flocking to the mall Friday and Saturday night's --- many left unsupervised. 

"Kids wrestle, tease, play and they have no idea they are possibly being offensive to others but I didn't see them as bad," said Lance Sturges, the general manager. 

Sturges went to work.  Six months of brainstorming with the community and city officials to tackle the problem.
The result the parent escort policy -- restricting shoppers under 18 to be alone Friday and Saturday after 4 p.m. without a parent or guardian 21 or over

Many shoppers wanting a similar policy at  Concord Mills Mall following a fight between teens on a busy Saturday night last fall.

"Family friendly means someone's wife could be comfortable with her young child. It means a grandma could come in the evenings. Not that before they couldn't come, but with someone running around in the mall maybe they weren't comfortable,"Sturges said .

Nearly a year into the program in Gaston County, Sturges says the feedback has been overwhelming positive

"I had forgotten that we even had the policy in place because today it's just how we operate and I think it's very conducive coming and shopping," said Sturges.