Having spent part of my career in the theme park and water park business, I loved an article in the New York Times last weekend appropriately titled: Shop til you Drip? Malls Test Experimental Waters to Fill Vacancies.
Desperate to fill the voids left by national chains shuttering bankrupt and liquidated chains (given the story here, pun intended), shopping malls are looking to do anything to drive traffic.
One hair-brained idea seems to be working and takes its cue from indoor waterparks, without the space requirements. They’re installing wave-making machines by Flowrider, the company that puts their surfing rides into waterparks across the world.
A retail chain called Adrenalina, which sells gear for extreme sports like skydiving and kite-surfing, transferred the concept to retail stores. And according to the article, “because the machines can draw enthusiastic crowds, Adrenalina is getting sweet deals from landlords. Adrenalina executives said some mall owners were paying to install the Flowrider, upwards of $2 million, just to get the extra traffic.”
The article provides a lot of background about the state of shopping malls in the U.S. as well and states, “mall vacancies are at their highest point in almost a decade, according to Reis, a research company, which said the vacancy rate at the end of 2008 was 7.1 percent, compared with 5.8 percent at the end of 2007. Other analysts have slightly lower figures, but all agree that vacancies are rising.”
What are shopping malls in your area doing to lure in customers?
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