Normally, this spot in our July-August issue presents the year’s Top 10 Retail Center Experiences, an all-star lineup of retail centers that over-achieve in adding merriment to the merchandise. But guest experiences have been few in this virus-plagued year, so Chain Store Age decided to shine a light on centers and retail real estate companies that are leading the way in creating safe, yet still-inviting experiences to draw crowds back to their properties. In this challenging time, our COMEBACK centers are re-engaging their visitors with society, not just retail. The editors of CSA's No. 5 pick is:
Poag Shopping Centers CEO Josh Poag said his company’s dealings with what he calls “The Great Accelerator” focused first on his team and on his tenants.
“The first couple of weeks, I was on the phone 100% with my team, and the leasing team was on the phone with our tenants, asking them, ‘What’s going on in your world? Are you able to do e-commerce? What do you need?’ It was a crisis, but all crises come to an end, and we had to provide calm in the storm,” Poag said.
Being an outdoor lifestyle center—a retail real estate sector pioneered by Josh’s father Dan and his business partner Terry McEwen—The Avenue East Cobb, located in Marietta, Ga., wasted no time putting together a series of outdoor events.
The first was Dinner & Drive-In Movie, which featured restaurant-to-car meal delivery. Limited parking spots were distanced in a checkerboard pattern and proceeds were donated to FeedAmerica.org. For the center’s Grand Re-opening in early June, an outdoor fitness class was hosted by tenant Barre3 and other tenants put on a sidewalk sale. A custom car show filled the Avenue at the end of the month.
“Frankly, what we started seeing was that our centers were the hubs of their communities. Word gets out, and people pour in,” Poag said.
Stay tuned for daily profiles of the next eight centers. Until then, catch up on what you missed: