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Developer Solicits Design Advice from Customers

But in 2005, when Trademark began planning a large mixed-use center, Watters Creek, for a 52-acre site in Allen, Tex., near Dallas, it decided to consult a group it had never called on before: women.

Terry Montesi, the company's chief executive, first hired two female retail consultants: Claudia A. Sagan and J'Amy Owens. But Trademark also invited two dozen women from the Allen area to pick apart its plans for the center. They included Kirsten Fair, a stay-at-home mother of two, and Debbie Stout, a City Council member, who runs a company that sells business forms.

The women weighed in on dozens of features, like the center's layout, landscaping, parking options, pedestrian walkways and outdoor art. The developers “asked us about every detail, and then they listened,” Ms. Stout said recently.

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