Coming to a mall
Shopping centers are providing the perfect venue for people to fulfil their social needs through unique experiences, creative workspaces, and interactive group entertainment.
In recent years, retail property owners have embraced the trend of tailoring the merchandise mix to a Live Work Play model and coming after a long shutdown, malls are predicted to once again become the go to place in the community. People are looking to escape their homes to seek the social interaction they crave and with traditional office workforce staying home, more than ever they are missing being part of a community. There are many new and innovative businesses who are capitalizing on the demand for people to fulfill their social needs by providing unique experiences, creative workspaces, and interactive group entertainment options and shopping centers are providing the perfect venue for these concepts.
Unique Experiences: Social media has changed the way we spend our leisure time. Customers seek experiences and want to share through social media channels. Experiential exhibits where customers can explore immersive, thought-provoking,fun installations have become increasingly popular bringing thousands of customers to a property. Some unique experiences opening ‘pop ups’ include:
- Candytopia (www.candytopia.com) is a celebration of all things sugar. The concept began 3 years ago with a location in Los Angeles and has since launched three national tours. This immersive 20,000 sf candy museum features imaginative colorful exhibits including a 360-pound dragon made of 125,000 pieces of candy and of course, ending in a giant pool filled with 300,000 marshmallows.
- The Friends Experience (www.friendstheexperience.com) brings the popular 90’s sitcom to the mall. The 12,000 sf Instagrammable installation has all the popular sets including the Central Perk Café, Monica and Rachel's apartment and of course the iconic water fountain. Their three-month long ‘pop up’ has visited sites in New York City, Boston and Chicago and will be adding a second tour later this year.
Creative Workspaces: With the number of people working from home escalated during the pandemic and many companies planning to continue this into the future, Zoom Fatigue has set in and these professionals are missing social connection. Startup companies have found new ways to provide new workspace options. Companies on the forefront of this new trend opening locations include:
- ootBox and ZenSpace are both seeking to carve their own niche by opening small workspace pod locations in retail property common areas:
- ootBox (www.getootbox.com) features 36 sf of mobile pods that are ‘dropped’ at open air properties. Their guests can book hourly or daily for the use of these four person workspaces. The industrial design is climate controlled and soundproofed to help provide a productive workday.
- ZenSpace (www.zenspace.io) offers a sleeker presentation designed for interior locations in shopping centers, hotels, and office complexes. These pods offer privacy for their guests to either get work done or provide a quiet space while visiting the property. The company was founded in 2020 and currently have 25 pods open and operating in California.
Interactive Entertainment: Offering customers more things to do at a shopping centers results in longer visits and often results in increased sales. There is an influx of new entertainment options with concepts including virtual reality gaming centers and esports lounges, both appealing to a non-traditional mall shopper. Brands experiencing great success and currently in expansion mode include:
- Sandbox VR (www.sandboxvr.com), a virtual reality gaming center where their guests can immerse themselves into challenging VR experiences including entering the world of Star Trek or finding Davy Jones lost treasure. They prefer shopping center locations with a diverse tenant mixes so their guests can make a day of it visiting other retailers and restaurants on property.
- PlayLive Nation (www.playlivenation.com) is an esports (competitive video gaming) lounge with over 40 locations across the country. These 3,500 sf spaces appeal to the growing gamer population who are looking to break free from their couches and seek experiences with friends in real time. Their customers tend to look for this use while shopping with their significant other and often incur a longer dwell time at a property.
These are just some of the national brands that are in expansion mode, but there are also numerous local and regional businesses with similar concepts who are looking for new retail locations.