Toronto Eaton Centre Copes With Crisis

Over the weekend, Toronto Eaton Centre suffered a tragic event, a shooting at the center’s food court that left one person dead and six wounded. The prime suspect in the shooting has been arrested and charged, but that may not resolve the feelings of unease that shoppers feel going forward. It’s a difficult situation all around, and the mall has a fine line to walk in its wake: remaining sensitive to the victims while restoring a sense of normalcy for its shoppers and retailers.

Thus far, it seems that the center’s marketing team has done a fantastic job of communicating these things to its customers. As soon as the police gave the center the clear to re-open, a notice was posted on the Toronto Eaton Center website informing shoppers of what they should expect and providing the necessary contact information for witnesses. The center’s Facebook page and Twitter account were also active, keeping shoppers up to date with the closure, the events and every update.

Once things were back to relatively normal, the center posted the following:

“Our condolences to the victims of Saturday’s tragic events, as well as their families and friends, and everyone who was visiting us that day. We’re proud and overwhelmed by the way you’ve rallied together as a community of concerned citizens in support of those impacted. Thank you for your patience, understanding and support during this difficult time.”

One of the most heartening things to see out of this event is the way the community has come together, using the center’s Facebook page as a central location to discuss the events, their personal experiences and their well-wishes for the victims and their families. The center has been quick to deal with the few inappropriate comments that have appeared, but otherwise it’s been hands-off and allowed people the space they need to communicate.

On Tuesday, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford visited the center to meet with employees in the food court and to reassure people that the city is, by and large, a safe place to live and work. The reassurances seem to be working—very little of the public response has been critical of the center or the city. A small blessing for a team in the midst of this crisis, but a blessing nonetheless.

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