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2023’s Top 10 Retail Experiences: No. 8 Pacific City

Chain Store Age picks physical retail’s most engaging centers
Al Urbanski
Pacific City tripled its local clientele with surfing themes and open-late eateries.

This 8-year-old center that sits on Huntington Beach--where the U.S. Open of Surfing is held each July--had subsisted primarily on tourist traffic. That was until Centennial assumed management of Pacific City in 2021 and took it on a surfin’ safari.

The Dallas-based company--whose MainPlace in Orange County was No. 6 on our 2020 list--did a kick-out on the center’s positioning by diving headfirst into a wall of waves.

Centennial partnered with the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame to create an Honor Wall honoring surfing legends like Kelly Slater and Bruce Brown.

Pacific City now hosts meet-and-greets with famed surfers. At one such event with Lisa Anderson—the inspiration for the Roxy swimwear and apparel brand-- Pacific City’s art gallery hosted a reception honoring her 30-year career.

One of Pacific City’s most popular events is its hosting of the KROQ “Roq the Ocean” concert series on its ocean deck, a raucous night of reggae and rock music.

A change has been made in the tenant mix, as well. The center landed the first U.S. dealership of VinFast, the Vietnamese e-car band, plus a new line of local-appeal dining options that include Old Crow Smokehouse, Bluegold seafood, and Ola Mexican Kitchen--some of which keep their doors open until midnight.

Centennial’s re-theming of the uniquely situated center has resulted in a 20% year-over-year increase in visitors. And what once was just 10% local traffic has been pumped up to 30%.

“We succeeded in changing the perception of Pacific City by adjusting the merchandise strategy and amplifying the experience to embrace the local culture,” said Centennial executive VP of marketing Colleen Heydon.

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