Retailers are trying to bring customers back into their stores after lockdowns, social distancing and fear of the pandemic. The environment had shifted their habits to more on-line shopping. But brick and mortar retailers want their customers back in the store.
1. Lego. Lego’s flagship in New York introduced the “Brick Lab”. It lets visitors create physical toys and augments reality in a 20-minute experience. Visitors create Lego models out of regular toy pieces.
2. Dick’s Sporting Goods introduced “The House of Sports” with a rock- climbing wall. Just as important in Victor, N.Y. and Knoxville, Tenn. the sports stores have turf fields that are 17,000 square feet and 24,000 square feet respectively in size. They can double as ice-skating rinks and are big local and local team practice attractions.
3. Mars has opened new M&M stores. In the one located in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. guests can ride an elevator to “Peanut Peak”, one of the highest points inside the mall. You can take a picture of yourself.
4. American Dream the new, huge 3 million square foot mall in East Rutherford, N.J. is an entertainment and shopping complex similar to the Mall of America. (Same owners). Skating rinks, waterpark, “Tilt” 3-D mirrored walkways are all fun and will attract parents and their children. (Or is it attracts children and their parents?)
5. Nordstrom’s new flagship store in New York City features food service on every floor. Maybe husbands will be happier while their significant other shop for shoes. Husbands can wait at a bar while the companion tries on fashion shoes.
What we are seeing is that stores and malls are trying to entertain their customers. They are telling customers to stay longer and shop more. It is all patterned after some earlier experiments such as the Toys “R” Us Ferris wheel in the former Times Square Store in New York City and the Blue Box restaurant in Tiffany’s or the restaurants in Nordstrom’s.
We used to say that retailing used techniques from the theater when they displayed the latest fashions on mannequins on platforms. But now we move from static fashions to activities that involve us. The change is dramatic and will have a positive response from shoppers.