May 25

A fresh take on ‘Retailtainment’ and future of fun

Retail has been the foundation of shopping centers throughout their existence, but new entertainment concepts are making inroads in traditional retail venues.

Even in mixed-use venues, it is generally accepted that a critical mass of traditional retail is the highlight, and that other uses are complementary pieces, designed to drive traffic and support the retail component. While the industry has been slowly evolving away from that traditional model for some time now (dining and entertainment uses in particular have emerged as more significant pieces of the commercial puzzle) that trend has exploded in recent years. A wide range of dynamic and engaging new entertainment uses have sprung up, and have functioned as increasingly prominent features on the development landscape.

Today, entertainment is no longer a side dish: it’s the main course. And it’s a meal that landlords and commercial development decision-makers are increasingly interested in ordering. Entertainment concepts have evolved well beyond the movie theater, and creative new brands like Momentum Indoor Climbing, Pinstripes, Punch Bowl Social, iFLY indoor skydiving and Topgolf have captured imaginations and dollars as they expand across the country.

Entertainment brands have the advantage of generally strong appeal with Millennials and other younger shoppers, and more owners and operators appreciate the degree to which a strong entertainment component can drive traffic and create valuable synergies with traditional retail tenants. Entertainment introduces a social element that gives a center status as a destination. It gives people reasons to come and reasons to stay, presenting a new and different range of engaging activities and memorable experiences.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising that landlords are increasingly open to new entertainment concepts. Some have been proactive about exploring creative ways to fill gaps in their tenant roster with compelling entertainment brands. For example, the Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota repurposed a 40,000-sq.-ft. space on the third floor of the mall from an old food court into a new Dave & Busters. The transformation was not without logistical and operational challenges, but the results have been extremely positive.

The rise of “retailtainment” is also prompting innovative development concepts that are almost entirely entertainment-based. One such project is the forthcoming 94 West Village in Albertville, Minnesota. Developed by Black Forest LLC and iP2 Entertainment, the 94 West Village will feature a mix of dynamic entertainment offerings, including a 50,000-sq.-ft. indoor water park and a “Back-Lot edutainment experience.” The project also includes a 275-room Marriot Hotel and convention center. All told, the 94 West Village offers about 100,000 square feet of entertainment space on 100 acres along I-94. Favorably positioned 45 minutes away from the Mall of America and immediately adjacent to the heavily trafficked Albertville Premium Outlets, the project presents an entertainment complement to a range of existing regional retail options.

While extending visits and keeping customers on site for longer periods of time is always the goal, the 94 West Village has the potential to keep visitors around for multiple days at a time. The hotel component makes it possible for a project that offers the purest expression of entertainment retail to function as a true stand-alone regional destination.

While the 94 West Village may be (thus far, anyway) an isolated example, the project’s promise illustrates just how significant the “retailtainment” trend has become – and hint at some of the places where it might be heading next.


Original article can be viewed here.