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Polaris Fashion Place turns 10

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Central Ohio’s largest mall opened 10 years ago, and has continued to improve and evolve over a sometimes tumultuous decade, thanks to a hands-on management approach by its owner Glimcher Realty Trust, based in Columbus, Ohio. Chain Store Age talked with Michael Glimcher, president and CEO of Glimcher Realty Trust, about Polaris Fashion Place and how it has stood the test of time.

In its 10-year history, how has Polaris Fashion Place changed/evolved over the decade, especially during the more recent recessionary climate?
Ten years ago, Polaris Fashion Place opened its doors to provide premier fashion and high-quality products to shoppers in Central Ohio. Thirty percent of the stores within the mall environment were new to the market. The mall also created thousands of new jobs and business opportunities.

We have done many things over the years that continue to make Polaris Fashion Place a great shopping destination. In 2008, we added a $45 million outdoor lifestyle center anchored by Barnes & Noble, Destination Maternity, and an expanded Forever XXI. The lifestyle area features dining and entertainment at Benihana and Dave & Buster’s with patio dining available at The Pub, Cantina Laredo, and The Cheesecake Factory.

Discuss some of the pivotal points in the mall’s history, such as the transition from your father Herb’s direction to yours, as well as how tenants such as Apple have impacted the center’s performance.
Ten years ago, when the company undertook Polaris Fashion Place, my dad’s vision was to have a premier fashion mall in central Ohio, offering the high quality and upscale stores and restaurants he’d been delivering across the country. It was an important milestone for him and for the company. In 2001, the company was transitioning from the community center business to a focus on regional mall management and development. Polaris Fashion Place afforded us the opportunity to showcase our talents as a developer to our peers and to the community by delivering a high-quality, two-level fashion mall. The mall signified the type of properties Glimcher would like to build or acquire going forward.

The 2008 addition of an open-air lifestyle component to Polaris Fashion Place brought in Cheesecake Factory as part of its dining lineup.

At the time, Polaris Fashion Place was the only mall to open with seven anchor stores. The idea of having seven department stores at the opening was unique to Polaris Fashion Place, as was the breadth of merchandise, from Saks to Sears and everything in between. We talked about the idea that you could enter the mall through a lot of different doors and a lot of different vantage points, allowing shoppers to make the mall their own. There really was something for everyone.

As retailing evolved, we began to see more hybrid projects popping up, combining the enclosed mall with an outdoor area. While many retailers want to be in an enclosed environment, some wanted to be in an outdoor environment, specifically restaurants. In 2008, Federated’s buyout of Kauffman’s allowed us to redevelop the department store space into an outdoor area, offering the option to our retailers.

Our philosophy is to have what people want versus trying to sell people something that you have, and by building an outdoor space we created a new experience desired by our customers. We also generated an opportunity to bring Cheesecake Factory, Benihana, Cantina Laredo and Barnes & Noble to the property.

Today, Glimcher continues to add impactful retailers, such as the Apple Store. It’s an example of an unconventional mall store that’s become highly sought after because other retailers want to be under the same roof. An Apple store alone can increase a mall’s total sales substantially; in fact, the addition of Apple at Polaris resulted in sales increasing in excess of 10%.

What about Polaris has served to attract new-to-market tenants?
Polaris Fashion Place was designed to be and remains an upscale fashion mall featuring new-to-market retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue. Retailers often want to be in the same mall as these desirable stores, which generally have only one or two locations in a metro area. Not only do these stores draw retailers, but they also typically have loyal shoppers.

The addition of the Lifestyle Center allowed for the best of both shopping experiences — enclosed shopping along with an outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment experience. We had already given people a reason to shop, and now we were able to offer a reason for people to visit the mall for other reasons.

Reinvention usually takes place around a mall’s 10-year anniversary, as it’s a time when leases come up for renewal. That’s the case for Polaris Fashion Place. This has enabled us to open new stores, including MAC Cosmetics and Bubbles Beauty. Victoria’s Secret VSX Sexy Sport and a Fossil store are expected to open by the holiday season.

What do you envision as the future of Polaris and how will you keep the mall relevant?
Going forward, we’re only going to get better. Polaris Fashion Place won’t look like it does today 10 years from now. The physical plant will evolve; the merchandise mix will evolve.

Today we’re focusing on restaurants and service uses, things that you want to get out of your house to do. Retail is a living, breathing environment. It always looks different than it did the year before, and we’re committed to continuing to upgrade the mix.

At the 10-year anniversary, we see a lot of opportunity. We have a good mix of space turning over, which is a good thing. We can take this opportunity to upgrade and freshen up the mix and consequently increase sales.

We look at the mall as a canvas; it’s a beautiful background, but the retailers are the star of the show. By changing the mall mix, upgrading the retail and freshening the experience, we are keeping Polaris Fashion Place relevant to shoppers.


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C.Floz says:
Nov-30-2012 11:58 am

Hands on management of the owner itself will be beneficial to the business. However, certain limitations should be set for owners' managing the business. - Theodore Stroukoff

C.Floz says:
Nov-30-2012 11:58 am

Hands on management of the owner itself will be beneficial to the business. However, certain limitations should be set for owners' managing the business. - Theodore Stroukoff

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Glendale Galleria, Glendale, Calif.

BY CSA STAFF

When a major mall wants to create a stir, adding a premier department store retailer such as Bloomingdale’s will usually do the trick.

In early November, Chicago-based General Growth Properties announced that it will add Bloomies as an anchor to its Glendale Galleria property, in Glendale, Calif. As well, said GGP, the center will undergo an expansive renovation, incorporating aesthetic updates to both the interior and exterior of the property.

“Glendale Galleria is located in a very dense and diverse market, and is in the backyard of the country’s entertainment icons, including Disney, DreamWorks, Pixar and Universal Studios. For years the center has introduced cutting-edge retail concepts to its customer base. Bloomingdale’s is the epitome of the Glendale shopper – stylish and fashion-forward,” said Sandeep Mathrani, CEO, GGP.

Attracting more than 26 million annual visitors, the property is located within the City of Glendale’s strong retail core, generating approximately $500 million in annual sales and $660 per sq. ft. For more than 30 years, Glendale Galleria has introduced first-to-market retail concepts, including the first Apple Store in the world and the first Disney Store. The addition of the 120,000-sq.-ft. Bloomingdale’s will enhance Glendale Galleria’s unparalleled retail line-up.

The Bloomingdale’s department store is expected to open fall 2013.

“Bloomingdale’s business in Southern California has developed rapidly since we opened our first store in the Los Angeles area in 1996,” said Michael Gould, chairman and CEO of Bloomingdale’s, in a statement. “Glendale Galleria will be our eighth store in the market. Customers love our unique sense of contemporary style and the attentive service that sets Bloomingdale’s apart.”

Much like Bloomingdale’s stores in Soho and Santa Monica, the assortment and shopping experience in Glendale will be carefully edited for the community and customer, according to Gould.


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Make your holiday mobile strategy ring the registers

BY CSA STAFF

By Bryon Morrison, president/Wireless Practice, The Marketing Arm

Can you hear that noise? It is the melodious sound of sleigh bells, phones, and cash registers ringing. The holiday shopping season is almost here and strategies incorporating mobile marketing can expand your database, reaffirm customer loyalty, and usher in new multichannel techniques to make the most of this holiday season — but only if you get your plan into action right now.

Holiday marketing strategy and the current environment
As any retailer will tell you, fourth-quarter sales are the most important, with 50% of annual revenues coming in during that specific period. The good news is that 2010’s fourth quarter sales showed increased consumer spending — and that was in a challenging economic environment just like the one we are in now. Retail sales climbed 14% above their third-quarter average in 2010, representing the largest quarterly gain since 2001, according to the United States Department of Commerce.

A recent study showed that 55% of interviewed retail associates believed that holiday shoppers were better connected to consumer information than to in-store associates in 2010; 87.7% of the same panel believed that shoppers can easily look for a better deal, meaning that customer service and strategy are incredibly important. In addition:

  • Forty-three percent of shoppers believed that mobile devices improved their shopping experience.
  • Sixty-two percent of consumers with web-enabled mobile phones are already making purchases via their devices.
  • Thirty-nine percent of smartphone users who left a brick-and-mortar retail location did so after using their devices to influence their decision.

With these statistics in mind, it is time to strengthen holiday campaigns for the mobile-equipped shopper who is browsing online, making in-person comparisons, or simply reading about friends’ purchases via social media.

Mobile strategy means more than coupons
Holiday sales are the tip of the iceberg for implementing or expanding a mobile marketing campaign, but retailers using the mobile channel this season should move beyond a “Dear Shopper” coupon to get their customers enrolled and engaged. Here are a few suggestions:

Fully utilizing SMS campaigns:
Simply adding mobile communications to a retail marketing mix will not instantly drive sales. In order to claim higher returns on SMS campaigns, communications for the holidays need to be targeted to previously gathered demographics. Customers need to have clear options to interact with the company (and to unsubscribe), and deals must represent brand value.

Branching to all funnel stages: Mobile marketing can be used in every stage of the marketing funnel. Retailers can offer samples to customers, also providing new product launch information and research opportunities, not to mention promotional blasts for sweepstakes and contests. With a fully formed database, it is much easier to launch mini-sites and debut mobile apps that complement an existing mobile campaign.

Expanding current strategy to mobile apps: Gartner reports that mobile app revenue will exceed $15 billion in 2011 and that over 80% of apps are free. While not a beginner’s move, mobile apps can enrich communication between customer and retailer. If a store app is not a feasible development for a retailer, another possibility to explore is the third-party retailer-oriented shopping app: consumers are using these in-store to guide their purchases, and your company can find a worthwhile presence by selecting the right one and investing in a relationship that goes beyond the typical media buy. A strong media activation can make your brand synonymous with the platform.

Getting the most from your campaign
As we saw in previously mentioned survey data, consumers are using their mobile devices to influence purchasing decisions in-store. With heavy emphasis on mobile strategy, it is easy to temporarily bypass the revamping of in-store campaigns with smartphone-equipped consumers in mind. When planning on branching out to mobile-toting shoppers, these tips can increase impact, exposure, and campaign effectiveness.

For impact, try… flash sales and downloadable content. Flash sales are easier to organize than extended initiatives, and list building occurs more quickly when shoppers witness a flash sale in person. Downloadable content helps in-store shoppers spend their time in line, and if given the opportunity to pass on news of an offer, your brand gets another chance at list building.

For exposure, try… video watch options and viral promos. Videos and viral promos can be viewed or redeemed while shoppers are in-store. Have customers sign up for sales lists, afterwards receiving “click-to-watch” videos that add value to the mobile campaign. Tap to interactive video options provide great customer engagement and branding opportunities. Using promos as “stocking stuffers” can aid customer-driven viral sharing.

For an effective campaign, do not forget to blend purposeful content with promotional content. Quality holiday content can range from store sales schedules with an “add to calendar” option (particularly important during the holiday season) to a location finder below a promotional message.

Consumers are likely to use multiple mediums to shop for holiday goods, and we should do the same for marketing — aim for varied approaches. Although mobile strategy takes time to develop, we all have to start somewhere. With the holiday season nearly here, one of the quickest ways to boost sales is to commit to a mobile marketing campaign — and then an effective mobile campaign should be extended for year-round benefit.

The holiday season shows true promise for retailers, but we cannot forget: cost-effective mobile campaigns can set retailers up for a year’s worth of success, not just a holiday windfall.

Bryon Morrison is president/Wireless Practice at The Marketing Arm.

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