Making Malls Internet-Proof
At Scottsdale Quarter in Arizona, 30 of its 53 tenants offer dining, entertainment, or a service in addition to traditional retailing. The emphasis is designed to bring experiences to the mall that consumers can’t get online.
While a Scottsdale shopper can buy apparel on the web, "she can’t go out to lunch with her girlfriends and have a glass of wine and a salad online," Michael Glimcher, chief executive of Glimcher Realty Trust, which owns the mall, told The New York Times. "She can’t get her hair done online. She can’t go and make pottery or soap or a cake online."
Mall tenants are stretching the definition of a traditional mall, such as Make Meaning, a membership store where people make cakes, ceramics, candles and jewelry, and Drybar, a salon where stylists use blow-dryers only and no scissors. With members coming in regularly, a store like Make Meaning can also boost traffic for the rest of the mall.
Beyond a greater share of restaurants and cafes than the average mall, Scottsdale Quarter features a yoga studio and a movie theater where viewers can have drinks and snacks delivered to their reserved seats. Many traditional stores feature in-store only options, such as a jeans store with a "Booty Cam" that enables women to get an alternate view while in the dressing rooms. A Restoration Hardware soon to open will sell fresh flowers and cups of tea.
Scottsdale Quarter makes $1,000 per square foot, the highest figure of any Glimcher mall. At Glimcher’ typical mall, only 20 percent of its tenants focus on dining, entertainment or service options.
An article earlier in the year also in the Times explored how some abandoned urban malls are using the empty space for schools, medical clinics, call centers, government offices and even churches. Aquariums, casinos and car showrooms have also been added to malls.
But the big design push around downtown malls was a shift away from "big, overwhelming malls" toward places that could be entered from the street and featured restaurants and "other Main Street mainstays." Many are being redesigned as town squares with the addition of gardens, dog parks and putting greens.
"Basically they’re building the downtowns that the suburbs never had," Ellen Dunham-Jones, a professor at the College of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, told the Times.
- Malls’ New Pitch: Come for the Experience – The New York Times
- Shopping Malls Are Now For Entertainment…Not Shopping – The New York Times
- Reinvent or go extinct: The shopping mall dilemma – Globe & Mail
Discussion Questions: How can malls be reinvented to reduce direct competition from online shopping? What are the pros and cons of adding more tenants offering dining/entertainment/services in malls?