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. 6 pick is:
“We’re thrilled to see you,” shouted signage to guests returning to MainPlace, in Santa Ana, Calif., and most of them had heard or seen similarly toned messages placed by the mall’s owner Centennial on ads and billboards and social media. Mall signs like “OMG, hey you!” and “Stay safe. Have fun,” aimed to treat shoppers like old friends and not new clinic patients.
“I grew up in retail, and the way we believe in running our properties is from a standpoint of customer engagement. To drive traffic, you have to create an exciting experience,” said Centennial CEO Steve Levin, whose father owned a chain of 30 Margie’s stores, value-fashion mall shops that were smaller and swankier than TJMaxx or Marshall’s.
A robust consumer campaign, then, was one of the first things Levin asked his marketing team to produce when the pandemic broke out. The tagline: “Our Priority is YOU.”
“We wanted people to walk back into MainPlace and think, ‘I’m comfortable here. They think about me,’” Levin said. “We feel very strongly that our places should be the places where people want to go when they leave their houses. Life, art, social engagement, shopping, eating—those are things we wanted to conjure in our campaign to re-open the mall.”
Stay tuned for daily profiles of the next eight centers. Until then, catch up on what you missed: