Dartmouth Mall recently changed its hours, causing a lot of chatter on the SouthCoast . While a mall spokesperson said the change in hours accommodates the modern-day shopper, not everyone is on board.

Then I remembered the strange rule implemented at my local shopping mall.

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Warwick Mall in Rhode Island has the “No More Than Four” rule, a code of conduct that prohibits groups of more than four from congregating in the mall.

The mall takes it seriously. It’s the very first rule of 17 on the Warwick Mall’s Code of Conduct, found on its website since 2021.

The rule reads, “No More Than Four – Groups larger than four are not permitted while walking or congregating in the mall.”

Dartmouth Mall has a similar rule, but with a little more clarity, saying, “Mall management has the right to prohibit groups of four or more individuals to congregate or walk the interior or exterior of the mall unless the group has appropriate adult supervision.”

READ MORE: New Vending Machine for Parents Coming to Dartmouth Mall

I grew up at the Warwick Mall. My friends and I would meet at the food court, hit up the arcade and window shop for hours, maybe even spend a few bucks on jewelry at Claire’s. Why wouldn’t Warwick Mall want the younger generation hanging out there? The “No More Than Four” rule feels less like a safety protocol and more like an effort to keep kids at bay.

SouthCoast shoppers weighed in on the code.

“Great idea, unless you have three or four children,”  one person wrote online.

“I respect that they have the right to make rules for their own business, but malls really aren’t doing all that well. ... Shouldn’t they just be happy if people are there at all?” another said.

Someone else made this point: “It’s private property. They can have whatever rules they want, but it’s going to be impossible and uncomfortable to enforce."

I believe the rule intends to avoid unruly crowds, but in a world dominated by online shopping, I think the mall should embrace groups of all sizes.

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