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VIth Sense: Your Next Opportunity is at the Mall

Posted by Tim Berney

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Nicely dressed woman in the mall riding an escalatorThe announcement of Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods shouldn’t be surprising. Amazon has grown from an online book retailer to a logistics distribution company. Why wouldn’t they, or similar companies get into the delivery of consumable products? Maybe UPS will buy YUM brands next. Or Uber will hook up with Home Depot. And when all of this happens, who will occupy all of this expensive real estate that these national retailers currently occupy? Radio Shack, Sears, JC Penney, Macy’s, Payless, American Apparel – it’s a long list and getting longer.

There was a time when the prevailing attitude was that people needed to touch the fabric and feel the quality. Try it on for size. Same thing now with groceries right? You want to smell tomatoes and thump the cantaloupe. Make sure there’s no broken eggs in the carton. 

Of course, convenience will win the day and grocery delivery will gain market share very quickly. And grocery stores will close, leaving behind even more real estate. It makes me wonder about the future of the mall. All of that empty space. But not today’s mall.

You know what I see? Opportunity! We humans are social creatures. We might default to social media too often, but we want to interact and engage. It’s instinctual. But, many of those social experiences are going away due to the behavior change being caused by the Amazon’s of the world. And sometimes we want to do that in person and I think we will be doing it at malls.

The mall of the future will be the great gathering place for us – like a modern town square. Sure, there will be retails stores, but not too many of them like today’s mall. The modern mall provide the backdrop for human interaction. And how do humans like to interact (in public)? Over food for starters – so malls will have far more restaurants- and not in the form of food courts. Nice places. Some very nice.  Next, entertainment venues. Movie theatres? Maybe. Amphitheaters and other music stages for sure. Park-like green spaces. Water parks. Zip lines. Art galleries. Beer gardens.  Getting the picture? The anchor of these malls won’t be a retailer – not a clothing one anyway. It’s more likely to be a mega-church. Or a college. 

There’s opportunity in everything. We just have to recognize it. There’s disruption happening today in your industry. Go take a walk around the mall and ponder it.

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