Loralee Clarke retires

After 34 years of a progressive career in the shopping centre industry, Loralee Clarke has left the mall – at least, in a working capacity.

The industry veteran spent the last day in her Langley office on Feb. 16. And while there are segments of the job she definitely won’t miss, (anything related to snow removal followed up by complaints), there is an abundance that she will miss.
“I’ll miss the people. I have met so many wonderful people over the years that supported and encouraged me,” she said.

Loralee spent her first years in retail swinging west coast to east and back to the west coast, starting in 1984 with Bramalea, working as a management trainee at Brentwood Mall. In 1986, she got her first centre to manage, Southridge Mall in Sudbury, Ontario, reporting to Rick Amantea. By 1987, she was in Calgary managing two centres for Trilea and by the 1988 Olympics she was manager of Marlborough Mall.

She credits many for showing and teaching her the industry, and is grateful to those such as Rick Amantea who she credits as her first mentor, which she said was a great fit for someone just starting out. “He taught me how to manage people, how to work with passion, enthusiasm, and most of all, how to have fun doing it,” she recalled.

By the end of 1989, she had returned to manage Brentwood Mall and take on the challenge of its redevelopment/rebranding for the times. In 1993, she was promoted to General Manager of Lougheed Town Centre. It was here she went through a transition of ownership from the now defunct Bramalea, to 20 Vic Management. When Willowbrook Shopping Centre became available in 1999, she moved over to Bentall, and took on the role of General Manager. From 2003 to 2009, she worked in the capacity of Regional Director for Bentall, which transitioned into Bentall Kennedy. A regional office was then set up at Willowbrook in 2009, and until her 2018 retirement, Loralee was responsible for overseeing 17 properties in the Bentall Kennedy portfolio in BC.

When it comes to mentoring, she has paid it forward and counts that among her greatest achievements. “I feel proud when people share with me that they have valued the mentoring and training that I gave them, and that I was part of their career growth.”

One of the main things she’ll take away is that she had the opportunity to work In an industry she loved, that gave her enough independence to showcase her skills, in a workplace that is “never static, always changing”.

Fellow BCSCA member Bonney Rempel reflects on her colleague’s career and says, “I can’t thank you enough for all you have done for the shopping centre industry.” Bonney does admit she’s never seen Loralee in a chicken suit but noted she made a great pack of Ramen noodles while supporting the local food bank. “She will be missed.”

In retirement, she will be concentrating a bit more on her artistic skills such as painting as a hobby, and getting out into the great outdoors. Her future team challenge: travelling through B.C. and the US. Both Loralee and her husband John are first-time campers. (She might want to keep that pack of Ramen handy.)

“We are buying a trailer to go places we have not explored yet, but we’re also planning a few bigger trips,” she said, mentioning Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, an African Safariā€¦”and anywhere there is a beach and sun!”

Her advice to those who follow: “Work hard, learn it all, have fun, be passionate and the promotions will follow.”

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