Staten Island mall hires a publicity hunk
10 months ago Nadine Entwistle 0
Sneaker brands use them, as do soft drinks makers and perfume companies — so why not shopping malls?
We’re talking about a celebrity endorser.
Staten Island’s Empire Outlets, optimistically rising on the borough’s St. George waterfront amid a national brick-and-mortar retail malaise, is hoping that a TV and movie star pitchman will help make it a success.
The 380,000-square-foot shopping and dining complex has inked TV and film star Theo Rossi — motorcycle clubber Juice Ortiz in FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” — to be the $350 million project’s public face.
Rossi, 41, now a hunky star of Marvel’s “Luke Cage” on Netflix, will be the “brand ambassador” for BFC Partners’ retail, food and hotel complex next to the ferry terminal and the New York Wheel.
The Staten Island native is a local hero for raising funds to help victims of superstorm Sandy. He will make frequent promotional appearances at Empire Outlets and hype it through his powerful presence on social media, where he has millions of followers.
The move comes days after BFC principal Joseph Ferrara tapped Douglas Elliman’s Faith Hope Consolo as a luxury retail consultant to lure tonier shops than the mass market Gap, Banana Republic, Toys ‘R’ Us and Nordstrom Rack that have already signed.
Reached by phone in Bulgaria where he’s shooting horror flick “Ghosts of War” with co-star Brenton Thwaites, Rossi chuckled when asked if he’d be out making sales pitches to fancy retailers.
“I’ll do whatever they need to get the word out,” said Rossi, who grew up in the Oakwood neighborhood and still has a borough home.
The outlets are scheduled to open in late 2017. But a source said, “BFC is also considering spring 2018 instead to coincide with the Wheel opening,” a separate project.
“We’re going to make it the Woodbury Commons of New York City,” Consolo said, referring to the Orange County mecca for discounted brands like Escada and Armani.
That will be tough, said retail analyst Richard Baum at Consumer Growth Partners.
“As far as luxury specialty stores like Coach and Burberry, I think that’s going to be a hard sell,” he said. “I don’t want to sound snobbish, but I don’t associate Staten Island with luxury shopping.”