By: Deb Cantrell
Looking for someone to market Sundance Square into the 21st century, Johnny Campbell, president and CEO, handed a recruiter a list of credentials. “Where am I going to find all that?” the recruiter asked. Turned out it was in Bedford. Tracy Gilmour, Director of Marketing the past 15 years—“I wasn’t sure whether she was ready to go to work for me,” Campbell said—turned what seemed impossible into not only possible, but into her personal love story as well.
Gilmour is responsible for the public image of the internationally known, 35-block downtown Fort Worth mixed-use development. The publicity, media relations, consumer advertising, business-to-business advertising, social media, two websites, events, promotions and sponsorship... it all falls under her purview.
“Tracy has the ability to take a very complete approach to not only the marketing, but the strategic direction of Sundance Square,” Campbell said. “Her influence goes far beyond what most people would consider traditional marketing, and she is a key part of our strategic leadership team. She takes the goals of the project very seriously and has an incredibly high standard for quality.”
Gilmour began her advertising and marketing career with Stephan Advertising Agency and after five years moved to Simon Property Group, where she held several positions from marketing director to divisional marketing director. At one time during her 18 years with Simon, she directed the marketing for more than 60 malls.
“I traveled all the time,” Gilmour recalled. “Being a newlywed and with kids going into high school, it was the right time to stop traveling.” Simon was pushing her to move to Indianapolis, and she did not want to move. “I took a demotion,” she said.
“I became bored. Sundance was calling.”
Gilmour started with Sundance Square on Sept. 12, 2001. “If you’ll remember, it also was post-tornado in downtown Fort Worth,” she said. “There wasn’t a lot of damage directly in Sundance Square. Obviously, the tower was right next door, but the traffic was subdued. Businesses had gone out.
“Everything was in turmoil. Nobody knew how drastically 9-11 was going to change everything as we know it—from travel to convention business. Everything just dried up. It was very quiet in downtown.”
One of the reasons Campbell hired Gilmour was her extensive retail background. “We needed a shopping destination,” Gilmour said. “We needed to fill the spaces and have enough retail to do that.”
At first, Sundance was marketing itself as a shopping and entertainment district. Gilmour dropped the word “shopping” because she did not feel it could back that up. “We needed to wait and grow the shopping, and we did. We have over 20 shops now, and because we are spread out over 35 blocks, it does not always feel like it’s that consolidation because they are on different blocks.”
Retail businesses are skittish of downtowns, Gilmour says, because there are not many downtowns in America that are successful shopping districts. “We are successful,” she said. “We have created something here that is unique, and it’s all the factors that you see and you don’t see. It’s the wide sidewalks and the cleanliness. It’s having people out and about. It’s the flowers. It’s the safety you feel. And free parking is unheard of in most downtowns.
“All of these great principals were put in place 35 years ago with the acquisition of property. It has been a longtime labor of love.”
Gilmour is looking forward to the new H&M four-level, full-line retail store opening this spring. “It is a game-changer. What national retail does is validate all of our retail to tourists. Having us listed as a location will be great. This will be their largest store in Dallas-Fort Worth.”
Gilmour’s service on North Texas committees includes Fort Worth Convention and Visitors’ Bureau Board of Directors, Chair of the FWCVB Marketing Committee, Downtown Fort Worth Inc.’s Festivals and Events Steering Committee and the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival Board.
Gilmour led the successful grand opening and marketing of the new Sundance Square Plaza, and she served on Touchdown Fort Worth and the Host Committee for the 2011 Super Bowl. Gilmour was the lead contact for ESPN’s footprint in Sundance Square during its last four visits to Fort Worth, including Super Bowl XLV.
“I’ve been quite fortunate to have been here the last 15 years and to be able to be part of the success,” Gilmour said. “It takes a lot of parts and pieces, and you can’t cut corners and deliver the experience we deliver day in and day out.
“What an incredible journey this has been.”
Tracy and her husband Tom live in Grapevine. They have four adult children: Courtney Coulson Mayfield, Colby Gilmour, Kylie Coulson and Kyle Gilmour.
By: Deb Cantrell