How does a shopping center stay relevant in this day and age? As brick-and-mortar and e-commerce trends continue to redefine the new age of retail, it is up to the shopping center itself to meet the new needs of consumers, the needs of its community and successfully revitalize vacant spaces in creative ways.
Established nearly 50 years ago, Military Circle has experienced its share of changes – having lost three anchor stores between 2010 and 2016. Last year, Pacific Retail Capital Partners, which has more than 150 years of collective real estate experience, took over as managing partner of Military Circle.
Military Circle leases space to more than 60 small businesses — 30 of which opened this year. We expect an additional four businesses to open before the end of 2019. The mall is also home to educational resources, including a beauty school and driving academy.
Some of its existing stores have an established following such as Fly Girl Boutique and African Art Bookstore, while some recently opened storefronts are creating a buzz in the community, including Fit Bar, Gourmet Burger Bistro, and #1 S.P.A.C.E (Space for Performing Arts and Creative Expression).
To keep pace with new consumer trends, we have to think locally. We no longer rely on the foot traffic that large, nationally-recognized department stores might boast — instead we are targeting the small business with a strong local following.
In addition, we have tapped into the talented pool of creatives here in Hampton Roads. The mall features murals painted by local artists, which are leveraged as an opportunity to support local nonprofits. Patrons are encouraged to take photos and share the images on social media.
In the coming years, shopping malls will continue to struggle to find their footing in this new retail landscape if they fail to embrace change. Rather than competing in this space, Military Circle is laser-focused on reinventing the shopping experience and is committed to shifting its approach to think small.
The mall will celebrate Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30 to encourage shoppers to “shop small” to support local business owners and the regional economy. Small Business Saturday, which is sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, will also include Santa’s Welcome Parade — scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
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