Nevadan At WorK; Through turns and trends, official helps Forum Shops thrive


As she walks in, her luminescent skin, black pencil-skirt dress and styled hair betray her.

It's Maureen Crampton, the marketing and business development director for the Forum Shops at Caesars, who steps with the carefree air of a lady who lunches. She does, of course, but not for leisure. This is a woman who works and works very hard.

The Forum Shops will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2012, and Crampton has overseen all two decades of the center's evolution.

"It's either very scary or pretty cool," she says of her time at the shops.

Crampton has been able to help maintain the Forum Shops' status as one of the premier shopping destinations in the world through constant innovation. Every six months, Crampton says she evaluates what's working and what's not, to ensure nothing becomes stale.

She attributes her success to "doing the homework that's necessary, really being in tune with my retailers and having great communication lines open with them."

Talking about the latest trends isn't just idle chatter. A finger in the air is a necessity in her line of work. Strong relationships with key retailers have been essential components of her daily work life, and they've helped her identify and capitalize on retail and fashion trends.

"I don't claim to know everything. I'm not on the floor inside the retail space," Crampton says. "Communication is really important, and then acting upon it."

Under Crampton's guidance, The Forum Shops brought Wolfgang Puck to Las Vegas, installing the city's first celebrity chef. The center, expanded in 1997 and again in 2004, now encompasses 638,000 square feet. Included in the mall are high-end retailers like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Jimmy Choo and Kiehl's.

Throughout its existence, The Forum Shops has achieved and continues to surpass the industry's annual sales benchmark for regional shopping centers, which is $350 to $400 per square foot. The Forum Shops' clientele is 80 percent tourist, 20 percent local -- a statistic that originally bothered Crampton. Being a native Las Vegan, she wanted traffic to be more balanced.

Eventually, she got over it. And herself.

"It's kind of a preconceived notion, because of what we're all about here, that it's going to be pretentious," Crampton says. "We're just us. For me to get caught up in the whole element would be really sad."

In the early '80s, before her time as the queen of the Forum Shops, Crampton worked for R&R Advertising (now R&R Partners) when the group worked on political campaigns for former governors Robert List and Bob Miller.

"It was interesting to see how those times unfolded," Crampton said. "I learned an awful lot there about how to handle different situations and how to work with clients."

Question: What was it like working for R&R Advertising?

Answer: It was such an eye-opening experience. It was the time when Sig Rogich worked there. I really learned a lot of things from him. The chemistry was so prevalent in the office. You might have a day where a homebuilder came to see him, a politician, it seemed like a melting pot. He was so instrumental in so many things that were happening in Las Vegas at the time.

Question: How do you keep yourself fresh after 20 years in the same position?

Answer: I think the challenge is you have to keep changing with the times. I mean, retail changes, when you think about it, constantly. I think that's what keeps my job fresh. I'm looking at it differently all the time. And, I'm looking at what is going in the world and how it affects business.

Question: How do you foster open communication with your retailers?

Answer: It's taken awhile, but I really do pride myself on having that. If I genuinely care and help them, and they see results, then a trust factor starts to develop. There's a camaraderie. You can act like you care, and people see right through it.

Question: What does your average workday consist of?

Answer: My day starts early because I have an iPhone and my corporate office is three hours ahead of me. I make the mistake of starting to check my messages at 6 o'clock, and then I start work, answering questions and sharing things with other people. In the long run I think it makes me more efficient because I can work out some kinks before I even get in the office. When I get in, I may have a conference call or a group that is coming to the shopping center that's affiliated with a tour. Then I may have to approve an ad that's going to run in a publication. Then maybe there's a press release from my PR team and we get on the phone and talk. I also meet a lot with my counterparts in casino marketing at Caesars.

Question: What's on your radar, businesswise, now?

Answer: It's our 20th anniversary next year and we are preplanning. We'll be kicking that off in January, slowly moving to a buildup in May, because May is actually when we opened in 1992. There will be a lot of fashion focus. We're going to go back and look at fashion in a retrospective. We have so many great designers that we can use as sources, it will be fun.

Question: What are you proud of about your time at the Forum Shops?

Answer: We are a true success story. It's not fabrication. We opened in 1992 as an unknown entity. We were not proven and it was a little scary. It has been nothing but terrific since that day. And it's great to be able to be here to tell that story. That to me is kind of phenomenal. I remember there were several stores that were calling that first week and saying they ran out of shopping bags. And some ran out of stock. That's the problem to have.

Question: How has business been the past couple of years?

Answer: Really great. Everybody has had the challenges of looking at what's going on with the economy and shifting and being smarter businesspeople. You have to evolve with the times. This year, we will end the year with double-digit (percentage) increases over last year.

Question: What specific challenges have you faced?

Answer: I think taking a hard look at how to appropriately conduct business. What I mean is, we may have focused a lot of energy on certain programs that worked during that time, but that's not going to work now. We need to put more attention on the domestic customer instead of the international shopper that maybe wasn't coming as frequently.

Question: How has business changed for you because of your iPhone?

Answer: Part of the reason I got one is because Simon Property Group is doing a lot of launches with applications, so (I got it) in order to be savvy and up to speed. My business has changed to more immediacy in messaging, much as the consumer has. And everybody uses it.

Question: How has being in the center of the fashion industry affected you personally?

Answer: I don't claim to be fashion icon by any means, but it probably keeps me up to speed on what's going on and trends and I either subscribe to that or not, but I do believe in supporting my retailers to a certain degree. If I'm going to purchase something designerwise, it would behoove me to support my team, so to speak.

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at lcarroll@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4588.

 

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