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Peter Harden: Shopping Tips from the 'Mayor of Scottsdale Fashion Square'

What does a "roving concierge" do? Peter Harden answers our questions.

For more than 20 years, Peter Harden has been the "roving" concierge at Scottsdale Fashion Square (SFS), strolling the shopping destination with the ission of helping others, whether with directions, help with finding an item, offering insights about the mall, or even just offering a kind word. Over the years he's earned the nickname the "Mayor of Scottsdale Fashion Square"—and fans from international celebrities to everyday shoppers.

What does a “roving concierge” do?

On any given day, I’m “roving” SFS to make meaningful connections with shoppers, store managers and staff members.

The most important thing I do is listen to shoppers and their needs, and then deliver. Whether it’s helping someone to locate a store, connect with a personal stylist or find the perfect gift, I help to make things happen, and aim to exceed all levels of expectation.

I offer kind words and inspired ideas about what to find and where, and I do my best to make their days with compliments, smiles, kind words and assistance.

I particularly enjoy making someone’s day through a random (and oftentimes unexpected) act of kindness, such as treating a shopper to coffee or lunch, helping to soothe a crying child, or carrying packages out to a vehicle.

Every question or request, no matter how big or how small, is given the most superior level of customer service. I’m here to ensure that everyone receives the true star treatment!

Peter Harden
Peter Harden (©Michelle Glicksman)

What drew you to this field?

More than 20 years ago, I was a security guard at SFS. When I first started, I had one pair of black sneakers with a hole in them. Shortly after I joined the team, John James, the property manager of SFS at the time, saw something unique and special in me.

John created an entirely new position for me (and for SFS), designating me as a roving concierge. I was given a wardrobe allowance for the first several months in my new role. I purchased dress shirts, pants and ties, and made relationships with SFS store managers. They began dressing and styling me, and passed along discounts to me when they could. They would also save items for me, so I could save up the money to purchase them. I would ride the bus to SFS, and arrive an hour early to dress in my attire for the day.

You’ve been with Scottsdale Fashion Square for a long time—what keeps you there?

Every day is my imagination of heaven. It’s a gift to wake up every day to my family, and come to SFS to my “extended” family of shoppers and retailers.

The people at SFS are the reason why I’m here. That includes everyone from the management team I work with (my family away from home) to the shoppers I meet from all over the world. SFS employees are some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met in my life. We’re all here to make our shoppers’ experience unreal!

The most rewarding aspect of my job is to be around people, and to have the opportunity to touch someone’s life every day. The connections and interactions I have with every person I meet have a way of positively impacting my life in countless ways.

Any favorite stories from your time as the “Mayor of Scottsdale Fashion Square?”

There’s too many to just pick one!

I met Robin Williams at SFS a few years ago, and our connection was immediate and enduring. He flew me to New York to attend the last of his famous Comic Relief fundraisers.  

I especially enjoy helping customers with unusual or challenging personal shopping missions. One that immediately comes to mind is a shopper who wanted to fulfill a longtime promise of buying his wife the perfect diamond ring. After hearing the man’s story, I led him right to Tiffany & Co. to choose the ring of a lifetime.

Any advice for a first-time visitor to Scottsdale Fashion Square?

Ask for me! I will give you the VIP experience that every shopper deserves. My mission is make every person who shops at SFS feel like a superstar!

We know you love them all, but do you have any personal favorite stores and/or restaurants at Scottsdale Fashion Square?

The general manager of Salvatore Ferragamo is my style inspiration. I love the prints, colors and fit of Ted Baker, and the men’s belts at Gucci. I also have great working relationships with several of the personal stylists at Nordstrom, and have directed several shoppers to Nordstrom for their style expertise. 

When you’re not working, where around town would we find you?

You would find me at home with my wife and child, spending time together as a family. I also love spending time gardening or just relaxing in my backyard.

What are some of your favorite locales around the Valley?

I had the pleasure of meeting Paul McCartney while dining at Don & Charlie’s. I love to hike A Mountain and Camelback Mountain; I’m inspired by the desert scenery. I enjoy visits to Western Spirit: Scottsdale Museum of the West and the Musical Instrument Museum. My go-to BBQ joint is The Thumb (inside Tom’s Thumb Fresh Market). My family and I have frequent dinners there!

Any favorite restaurants?

I love the grilled salmon at Kona Grill. The popovers at Neiman Marcus Café are incredible! Chef Tony is the best. He used to be the chef at a Scottsdale restaurant that I used to frequent with my family.

Do you have a favorite saying or quote?

My mother ingrained this quote into me as a child: “If you can touch just one person’s life every day, then your living on this earth will not be in vain.” I didn’t truly understand it until I got older. Now it’s become my daily mantra. My morning ritual includes a daily prayer asking to touch at least one person’s life every day, to make a change in one person’s life, to make one person’s day extraordinarily special.