The cover of this issue prompts you to "Check out what's INStore," and I hope you have. INStore is a new, monthly section in Shopping Center World, and it tells the story of the design and image of modern retail.

A Shopping Center World study indicated that a majority of our retailer readers are involved not only in site selection, operations and finance but also store planning, design and construction. Therefore, INStore allows Shopping Center World to take its industry-leading exploration of the shopping center a step further.

Through INStore, we will go inside the specialty stores that fill a regional mall, a power center, an outlet center, a neighborhood center, etc. Once inside, we can discover in detail the components -- fixtures, lighting, displays, flooring, graphics -- that shape the retailer's image and store design.

INStore will discuss the who, what, why, how and how much of retail image and design. In this first issue of INStore, we look at Redesign Do's & Don'ts. Features on Alternative Site Retailing, Flagship Stores, Interactive Retail Environments, and What's In/What's Out for 1998 are slated for future issues.

With the introduction of INStore, Shopping Center World also welcomes Kari Hudson as managing editor/special sections. Kari comes to Shopping Center World from a sister magazine, Retail Store Image, which ceased publication in April. Her experiences there and at other store design publications puts INStore in good hands. Kari is in our Atlanta headquarters and can be reached at (770) 618-0319.

This issue of Shopping Center World also contains our 10th annual ranking of retail contractors, the builders of both shopping centers and stores. Industry rankings are familiar ground for Shopping Center World, but no group is more curious about its rankings than the retail contractors. For all the contractors who called to find out their ranking (and who I wouldn't tell), the suspense is ended with the rankings.

This issue of Shopping Center World is also significant for what it doesn't contain. Outlet Retailer, our quarterly supplement on the outlet center industry, has been suspended. Do not misread that, however, to mean that outlets are out.

Outlet centers -- like strip centers, power centers and regional malls -- are a part of the world of shopping centers and their coverage in Shopping Center World will be integrated into the magazine's regular departments, columns and features.

There will be occasions when we will focus exclusively on the outlet industry, but the differences between outlet centers and outlet stores and other retail environments are not as dramatic as was once thought. Like the outlet centers themselves, reports on the outlet industry will be everywhere in Shopping Center World.

Westminster Mall Expands Project Earth In April, Westminster Mall in Westminster, Calif., held its third celebration of Earth Day, with interactive exhibits, live shows and education for schoolchildren. The event schedule, held April 11 -- 27, included such center attractions as a 50-ton sand sculpture, a birds of prey exhibit, an interactive tropical wildlife attraction and photo exhibit, as well as a tropical insect exhibit.

But this year, "Project Earth: A Celebration Of Our World" added a new twist to its program: fundraising. With the sale of 1,000 t-shirts, the center raised $5,000 for Rainforest Action Network, a tax-exempt, non-profit organization based in San Francisco. The grant will go to the demarcation of the remaining four indigenous community lands -- encompassing nearly 360,000 acres of rain forest -- on the Chambria River in the northeastern Peruvian Amazon.

During the course of the drive, a $50 Westminster store purchase qualified mall patrons to buy a full-color t-shirt bearing the Project Earth logo for $5. The t-shirt logo tied directly into Project Earth's marketing campaign, which included direct mail fliers, signage and in-mall banners.

According to center marketing manager Stephanie Greene, Westminster retailers took Project Earth participation to heart. "Tenants really got behind the idea," says Greene. "Most of the stores put counter signs up about the t-shirts, and some even took the direct mail piece and hung it in their window.

Westminster Mall's Project Earthprogram raised $5,000 through a t-shirtdrive for Rainforest Action Network.

"Retailers also reminded shoppers that, following their $50 purchase, they could go and get this terrific t-shirt at the information booth," she adds. "That communication directly related to the success of the purchase- with- purchase program."

Retailers were pleased with the traffic stimulated by the Project Earth campaign, says Greene. "We don't have traffic counters, but we do know from a variety of stores that sales and traffic were up substantially," she notes. "We received sales figures that were [well above normal]."

Greene says that adding fundraising to the mix of information, entertainment and education added a spark of direction to the promotion, which is all but certain to return again next year. "We've never done fundraising before," says Greene. "We've always done the field trip and learning opportunities, but we've never been able to tie into a charity that we feel would be worthwhile and be a catalyst for participation until this year.

"We're committed to [Project Earth] for as long as the community wants to have it," Greene continues. "More than 1,000 school-children tour the exhibits on field trips, and a number of other schools called for additional brochures. As long as we have that type of interest and support from the community, we will continue to do it."

Westminster management is commissioning a commemorative plaque, which will list the name of each person who purchased a Project Earth t-shirt. "That's our 'thank-you' back to the community," Greene concludes. "For as long as this mall stands, they will be recognized for their contribution."