Local News

Outlet mall silences Salvation Army bells

Posted December 17, 2010 6:17 p.m. EST
Updated December 18, 2010 6:33 p.m. EST

— A sound of the holiday season has been silenced at the Carolina Premium Outlets in Smithfield, where managers are enforcing a policy against bell-ringing by the Salvation Army.

Mall General Manager Linda Crowder said Friday that the no-bell policy has been in effect for several years, but she said the Salvation Army is still welcome to collect money outside stores.

Salvation Army Lt. Kevin Justice said Carolina Premium Outlets has never before enforced the policy, which he blames for a 40 percent drop in donations at the shopping center.

"If you don't ring a bell, you don't draw in the attention of the customers," Justice said.

He said mall managers have told him the ringing bells drown out the holiday music that is played.

"We have never had an issue with this and have coordinated with the Salvation Army for years. We continue to support their efforts and encourage our shoppers to be generous when they pass by," Crowder said in a statement.

Justice said the policy makes it harder for the Salvation Army to find volunteers to watch over its red collection kettles at the outlet mall.

"It been harder to fill the spots over there with volunteers because they want to ring the bell," he said.

A few miles away, bells ring loudly as the Salvation Army collects money at a Walmart shopping center.

People there said they love the sound of the bells and said they couldn't understand Carolina Premium Outlets' policy.

"That's 'bah, humbug,' Scrooge, that type of thing," shopper Joy Henriques said of the no-bell policy. "To me, (the bells are) part of the season."

"Every time I see the bell ringers out there, I put $4 or $5 in all the time because I love the Salvation Army," shopper Susan Marshmon said.

The Salvation Army's kettle campaign continues through next week.