The piano man sits off to the side in the mall’s center court, pounding the keyboard as his head swings from side to side and up and down to his music. His shoeless feet quickly move back-and-forth on the piano pedals, artfully forming the catchy melody. When he plays, his music fills the mall. Many bustling shoppers are drawn to his tune, stopping to drop a dollar or two in his stained, wooden tip box. Seeing him perform is one of many reasons Denton locals love shopping at Golden Triangle Mall.
The piano man is 21-year-old Alexander Solorzano, a mechanical and energy engineering major at the University of North Texas. Every Wednesday, between the hours of 6 to 8 p.m., he plays elegant and powerful music for mall shoppers. Alexander has only been playing at the Golden Triangle Mall for six months, but he has a full 13 years of playing piano on his résumé. He’s good, but sometimes his nerves get the best of him.
“I buy an ICEE from Morrow’s Candy ‘N’ More every time and sip on it throughout my set to help deal with my nerves,” he said. “It has become a weird tradition for me.”
Alexander’s music is only one of many attractions at the Golden Triangle Mall. The recent additions of H&M and Francesca’s have drawn even bigger crowds to the mall. H&M, the popular European-based chain, has an outside entrance, giving customers direct access. While it’s convenient for quick trips, shoppers who only go in and out miss some of the mall’s delightful surprises, like Alexander the piano man.
The Golden Triangle Mall’s recent renovation enhanced the shopping experience with a complete facelift. They reconstructed the food court, center court and added seating areas with charging stations. All the edgy upgrades drew new tenants, including Zumiez, Bakers Shoes, Torrid and Sephora.
According to Golden Triangle Mall marketing director Carrie Carter, there’s a lot more to come.
“Victoria Secret is doubling their store size by moving from their current space to a roomy 8,000-square-foot location by the center court,” Carter said. “Bath & Body Works will also be relocating to a larger area.”
Carrie’s job is all about attracting shoppers to a complete entertainment experience, like during the holidays, when kids line up for pics with Santa Claus and a chance to whisper their Christmas list. She focuses on creating special events, such as the Sweetheart Market, featuring local handmade goods for Valentine’s Day.
Kara Nelsen owns Kara’s Bake Shoppe, a custom baking and decorating business. She normally sells her wares at the Denton Community Market on Saturday mornings in downtown Denton. She was eager to expand to the Golden Triangle Mall for this special new event, where she delighted customers with themed cupcakes, decorated sugar cookies, chocolates and cake pops.
“We and other Denton Community Market vendors are local to North Texas and only sell handmade items,” Kara said. “It was nice to reach a new clientele at the mall that we don’t usually get.”
One of the biggest events held inside the mall is the Summer Music Series.
This is one of Carrie’s ideas that has become a Denton favorite. The series features free, live music at the food court every Saturday evening, linking the mall to the vibrant music scene for which Denton is known.
J.R. Byrd, an acoustic singer/songwriter, was part of the local talent featured during last summer’s series. Byrd has played numerous shows around town in the ten years he’s played music professionally, but he has fond memories of the Summer Music Series.
“I don’t always get to feature my originals,” J.R. said. “But it gave me a chance to play my own music and get paid for it, which is ultimately what all musicians want.”
Alexander’s final notes hang in the air as he completes another successful day as the piano man. He is just one part of the music, shopping and entertainment mecca that is the Golden Triangle Mall.
Sounds like a little piece of Denton, doesn’t it?
Featured image courtesy of Roberto Aguilar