Will the maker movement inspire a new creative direction for malls?

Discussion
Photo: Rose & Loon
Dec 13, 2018
Tom Ryan

The commercial real estate management firm, JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle), has opened its first permanent store, Rose & Loon, with a focus on homemade merchandise from local artists at a repurposed mall in Roseville, MN.

“Rose & Loon believes the maker movement is here to stay,” JLL said in marketing copy. “It features handmade products such as jewelry, clothing, and home décor made by Midwest artisans that are bound to stand out from the rest.”

The 4,000-square-foot store, which opened in late September, features multiple vendors under a single storefront that sells individually branded merchandise directly to customers.

We intermixed the curated products to create the feel of a single boutique, as opposed to the often ‘flea-market or consignment’ feel that we have seen in similar concepts,” wrote JLL. ”All of the merchandise is under a single POS (Point of Sale) system to create a seamless and efficient transaction for the customer.”

To recruit vendors, over 70 “MN Makers” were reviewed by local celebrity judges in a public “Shark Tank” event in early May. Forty were selected. A new group of artists will be featured in time for next year’s fall/holiday selling season.

Will the maker movement inspire a new creative direction for malls?
Photo: Rose & Loon

“Makers” will occasionally visit the store to demonstrate how their wares are made and tell their backstory. Will Hochenberger, the store’s general manager, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “We want to hire storytellers, not retail people.”

The 1.4 million-square-foot Rosedale Center recently underwent an $80 million renovation that included the opening of a Von Maur and a two-level food hall. A second phase will repurpose a vacated Herberger’s with retail and residential units, a hotel and an outdoor gathering place.

“Our store is the first-of-its kind retail concept carefully created and built by the retail management team,” said Bill Moston, SVP and Rosedale redevelopment lead for JLL. “We invested over $1 million to bring a great idea to life to surprise and delight our Rosedale shoppers, and in the first two months of operations, it’s already paying off in spades.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think JLL’s Rose & Loon’s “makers” approach has promise? What do you like most about it? Should mall property managers get more involved in creating concepts to support their properties?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Those that like to shop, and there are still many of us, are always looking for something new."
"The future is now with the creative incubation economy, as everyone loves a good story."
"Is anyone assuming this “makers” approach is the new anchor store? Try it. I hope it works. But the old retail models are over and I have little hope for it."

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20 Comments on "Will the maker movement inspire a new creative direction for malls?"


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Min-Jee Hwang
BrainTrust

There’s a strong market for hand-crafted goods and unique items, such as what’s for sale here by the “makers.” Just look at Etsy for an e-commerce version. So there’s definitely demand for this from consumers and I’d expect it to garner a fair bit of attention in the beginning. The concept could also work well as holiday pop-ups, given that homemade goods make for great gifts.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Etsy unfortunately lost its indie credibility a long time ago when it allowed non-handmade items to be sold on its site. Many makers moved on.

Art Suriano
BrainTrust

I think this is an excellent concept and with the right marketing will have appeal. It will come down to the quality of the merchandise and price points. Those that like to shop, and there are still many of us, are always looking for something new. JLL’s Rose & Loon is something that will pique interest. As malls and retailers continue to find new methods of attracting customers, this approach should be a winner. Traffic is increasing which also makes this an excellent opportunity. I can see other Rose & Loon stores in the future.

Tom Dougherty
BrainTrust

I think malls are over. They cannot compete with the convenience of online shopping. They were always controlled by anchor stores. Without them, the malls floundered.

Is anyone assuming this “makers” approach is the new anchor store? Try it. I hope it works. But the old retail models are over and I have little hope for it.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

The biggest issue for “makers” (which we used to simply call “crafters”) has always been access and visibility to buyers. The concept of a centralized display location has successfully met that need for centuries — ranging from the medieval bazaar to the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville, NC today. But it is a store or two in a larger retail concept, not the salvation of malls in America.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

I totally agree Ben. This concept offers a good destination event for some shoppers, however, these stores are not about volume and will likely not do too much to increase the profits of the Mall. It’s a good start, but the Malls need to offer more. For my 2 cents.

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

The local “makers” retail approach has tremendous possibilities — IF the retail experience stays dynamic and the storytelling stays fresh. Without a dynamic campaign, this will simply become an arts and craft fair under a roof. These experiences combine the necessary elements required in today’s retail landscape — local community, anti-Amazon — you can create an experience with products that Amazon will never be able to replicate; one that has local relevance, support and immersion. The design of the retail environment MUST be immersive and allow shopper participation — creating an immersive storybook.

Similar retail approaches are taking root in Atlanta. Property developers should become more involved in creating real estate environments rather than just leasing square footage in order to create “Amazon-proof” retail environments.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

I like this and think it fits in with a number of important demand trends; authenticity, localness, uniquensss, sustainability, and connection. From the pictures, the space also looks really smart and engaging.

Certainly there is a limit as to how much these type of concepts can “save” falling malls. But it’s a great step in the right direction.

Jeff Sward
Guest

Well said. Makers are a terrific evolutionary step. A step … now for the rest of the marathon….

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Reimagining malls and the old department store physical locations into town centers — a place for the community to connect, full of smaller, curated, creative experiential spaces, and a place of media for both brands and retailers — is the wave of the future. The future is now with the creative incubation economy, as everyone loves a good story. Customers need a compelling reason to go to the mall, and the maker economy is one of the many that will bring the traffic to the mall in the wake of the disappearing anchor department store tenants.

Combine this with the increase of shared workspaces, experiential-focused curated retail footprints, brands opening DTC showrooms, restaurants, cafes, lifestyle-focused retailers; the mall as we know it is evolving — and it’s a very welcome change.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

I have been part of the craft and creative industries for the majority of my career. We have been trying hard to get the world to adopt the word “maker” because younger generations equate “crafter” with their grandmother. Maker stores are popping up everywhere because consumers appreciate things that are created by hand. Last November, I visited a beautiful store at the Mall of America that sounds similar to this concept. Everything in it was created by artisans.

Having the makers occasionally visit the store to demonstrate how their items are made is a good idea; craft retailers have been doing this with designers for years. The quote, “We want to hire storytellers, not retail people” bothers me. Makers can be both creators and retailers. And retailers can be storytellers. The story is part of the experience.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

I hear you on “maker” versus “crafter” Georgeanne. Reminds me of a Quixotic tilt I went on some years back to get people to refer to “Proprietary Brands” instead of Private Label. It does seem that a broader spectrum of entrepreneurs are adopting “maker” however. For example, my nephew’s company has pioneered 360 data visualization for a number of applications — their passion being education. Their biggest clients are NASA (JPL) and NOA. But when he showed me the new 3D printer he and his son are using to print the prototype parts for their latest patent application — the younger referred to themselves as “makers.” I doubt anyone would refer to what they do as a “craft.”

Of course, none of this changes the discussion as it pertains to today’s RW discussion. It’s just interesting to me to watch how the lexicon evolves.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Good points! People are still trying to make “Maker” work but it’s slow moving, if at all. It’s not mainstream yet. Last year, the Craft & Hobby Association changed its name to the Association of Creative Industries because it thought “craft” trended as old, and “hobby” represented trains and remote control. I think it was an expensive exercise. We insiders make a bigger deal about what we’re called than consumers do.

Anne Howe
BrainTrust

Hand-crafted/maker good are especially appealing to consumers as sort of a backlash to over-abundant technology. I’m not sure why Etsy missed the opportunity for a few well-placed mall stores.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

The U.S. has 10 more square feet per capita devoted to retail space than Europe. That is largely a result of the growth of malls over the last 60 years. The U.S. also has more vacant retail space per capita than all but about three countries in the world. Re-purposing malls for boutique type tenants is simply “blowing in the wind.”

Start from scratch. Ask the question, “what is the best use for the real estate?” It may mean tearing the mall down and building something else.

Harley Feldman
BrainTrust

There is definitely a market for makers’ products as is evidenced by Etsy and similar websites. Some consumers prefer to buy makers’ products which tend to be unique rather than mass-produced items. Rose & Loon is offering a broad array of maker products in one location which will increase visibility and consumer interest due to the concentration of maker products in one place. Mall property managers should get more involved in creating concepts for their malls as they need to attract consumers to the mall instead of having their customers buying online and avoiding the mall.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Making shopping personal via storytelling is one of the best ways to create compelling differentiation for your stores.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

This is about discovery in the shopping experience. People used to go to malls to discover new products and, after all, the mall is where the stores were! Now people go to malls when they need to and want to buy something they have in mind. Discovery has moved to digital channels and unless malls do something different and unique to re-enable discovery, traffic levels will only continue to decline. I like this concept as it also leverages localization and introduces a “treasure hunt” mentality to the product discovery equation that isn’t normally associated with the mall. Ideas such as this one and what we’ve seen with BrandBox by Macerich to bring digital native brands into the mall are a great idea that warrant more attention. I’m not sure this can save lower B- and C-level malls, unfortunately, but it’s worth a try!

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Every idea — or at least many of them — has “promise” in the sense that it can be an attraction; the problem of course is the scale. 4000 square feet in a mall of 1.4M. It sounds like the real story here is that Rosedale was lucky to redevelop the Herberger space quickly, and doublepluslucky to land Van Maur … unfortunately for other malls, there aren’t enough 4-star anchors to go around (and fewer every year).

David Naumann
BrainTrust

The Rose & Loon’s “makers” approach to retail appeals to a growing trend — shopping local and the desire for unique/original products. This is another example of the retail renaissance that is revitalizing stores and malls. The definition of retail is evolving as retailers and malls are trying new models and concepts ranging from stores within a store, pop-ups, subscription services, customized products, experiential shopping, innovative shopping tools to cashier-less stores.

Many malls have been struggling to keep tenants and attract shoppers and the winners will be the ones that find creative ways to reinvent the shopping experience to adapt to evolving customer expectations.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Those that like to shop, and there are still many of us, are always looking for something new."
"The future is now with the creative incubation economy, as everyone loves a good story."
"Is anyone assuming this “makers” approach is the new anchor store? Try it. I hope it works. But the old retail models are over and I have little hope for it."

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