The doom of shopping centers and malls has been predicted for many years now. Then COVID hit and that was going to be the nail in the coffin. But now, over three years after COVID hit, consumers are shopping in droves! The demise of shopping centers and malls never happened. Predictions were dire and now many of these centers are thriving, even as a recession looms.
“Consumers want to see, smell, taste, touch, and try on the things they buy. Not only that, but they also want to get out of the house and see other people.” Says August Martin, owner of The Village on 725 in Dayton, Ohio, an open-air lifestyle shopping center with 15 store fronts. “Core to keeping shopping centers relevant is to provide a welcoming environment – giving shoppers a reason to leave their house. That includes providing green space, music, benches, good design, and beautification. Additionally, as a store space provider, leasors need to partner with tenants and help them grow in good times and bad.”
Let’s take a look at the four strategies that will ensure that a shopping center and its tenant partners will outperform the projected one percent retail growth for 2023.
Welcome shoppers with a green landscape and an outdoor experience. The Village on 725 is a unique shopping center because nearly half of the property is dedicated to green space. There are more than fifty trees and a half acre of lawn at this three-acre site. The center also incorporates a range of green infrastructure features, including rain gardens, bioswales, and permeable pavements, to manage stormwater runoff and reduce the risk of flooding. The project also includes plans for a community solar garden, which will provide affordable, renewable energy to residents and businesses.
Break out of the box. Shoppers also expect a well-designed, aesthetically pleasing shopping environment. The design of the center gives the shopper a feeling of being in a European village. Each store has a different façade with unique details. Opened in 2008, The Village at 725 was designed by Lora Sebald, an accomplished architect based in Dayton, Ohio. She is the founder of Sebald Architects, a design and architecture firm that specializes in sustainable and environmentally conscious projects.
Beautify your center and customers will return time and time again. August continues, “When we purchased The Village in 2014, one of the first things we did was dramatically increase our spending on beautification. So, in addition to all the greenery we added huge pots, a lot more flowers, decorations during the holidays, piped in music throughout, and benches. All things that make consumer want to stay, shop and eat.”
Don’t just sign a lease, partner with your tenants. August is proud of the work The Village has accomplished by partnering with his tenants, he goes on to say, “Everyone was scared of what would happen to retail and restaurants during those first few months of COVID. My co-owner sister (Lisa Martin) and Village General Manager (Tim Albro) immediately got our partners on the phone and came up with store specific plans on how to minimize the impact of COVID.” That included some free rent, rent payment extensions, dedicated parking spaces for pick-up, and extra signage on the frontage road letting shoppers know when their stores were open again. “We pulled out every stop and let our partners know that they were not alone and that we were there to help them.”
According to August, “With over 1,300 cars per day in the center, plus successful tenants expanding and growing their business – its proof that if you stay relevant and give a great experience your center will grow.” In fact, in the last 15 months, three stores expanded their space – Bella Nails, Cookie Cutters and Waxxpot. Additionally, another tenant has plans to increase their space by 50% in 2024. Additionally, some stores have experienced sales levels over and beyond what they were before the pandemic. Even the Village’s tentpole tenant boasts of having the highest revenues out of all their stores in the greater area.
The Village on 725 is conveniently located across from Dayton Mall and on the 725, one of the largest shopping areas in the greater ‘Daytonnati’ area. Together, these two shopping centers offer a comprehensive shopping experience with a wide range of stores, restaurants, and services. Some of the most popular shops in the Village on 725 include Smashburger, Jimmy John’s, and AT&T.
Vivek is a published author of Meidilight and a cofounder of Zestful Outreach Agency. He is passionate about helping webmaster to rank their keywords through good-quality website backlinks. In his spare time, he loves to swim and cycle. You can find him on Twitter and Linkedin.