Shopping Centers Today

MAR 2015

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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Page 48 of 59

an amazing amount of street activity," he said. "Where before, you might have just had people walking in and out of the storage building, now we have live music, food trucks and other ways for people to be on the street and enjoy themselves." Local color At Easton Town Center, the 1.7 mil- lion-square-foot regional mall in Co- lumbus, Ohio, retail space is scarce. So when the bankruptcy of a national tenant created a vacancy, retailers were clambering to do a deal, says Anne Mastin, executive vice president of retail real estate at Steiner & Associ- ates, which manages and co-developed the mall. But the Steiner leasing team had something else in mind. "We had been having farmers markets during the summer, and we realized that, come fall, all of these wonderful ven- dors and independent retailers would not be able to sell their products at Easton during the winter season," she said. "Our solution was to bring some of those tenants inside." The farmers market had become, in effect, a tenant incubator for Easton. The new retail space, called Celebrate Local, is now a permanent showcase for the kinds of local vendors that fit right in at any outdoors farmers market, along with some others with strong local ties. Wares from about 300 artisans, farmers and other ven- dors are available in the store. "We now have artisans who do everything from jewelry to furniture," Mastin said. Among the offerings are offbeat T-shirts, Ohio-made wines and refrig- erator cases filled with Ohio eggs and produce. "It is an eclectic mix, but it just works," Mastin said. "They are do- ing amazing business." When owners and managers are looking to incubate new concepts, one way to identify strong candidates is to ask whether the prospect's business is consonant with a prevailing trend. One key to the success of Easton's farmers market has been its appeal to "loca- vores" — consumers who are obsessed with farm-to-table produce and other locally connected goods. Celebrate Lo- cal was thus a strong fit for an in-line space at the mall, Mastin said. It also appealed to convention attendees and tourists staying at Easton's two hotels. "When people come from out of town, they love Celebrate Local, because they want Ohio gifts," she said. Another locavore-friendly concept is Easton's Northstar Café farm-to- table restaurant. Meanwhile, Hom- age, an independent tenant that sells retro T-shirts, resonates with some of the demographic trends Steiner has been tracking, Mastin says. "We learned about Homage when they had a little 900-square-foot store lit- erally on an alley down by the uni- versity," she said. "We knew this was something the Millennials would love, so we put them at Easton, and they have been hugely successful." At well-located regional malls, doing deals with smaller tenants re- quires a willingness to sacrifice some rent to the larger goal of a livelier tenant mix, Mastin says. "If we just strictly looked at the rent structure, we would never be able to do deals with locals," she said. "But one of the complaints you'll hear about our industry is that 'shopping centers all have the same tenants.' You have to remember that doing deals only with those who have the biggest bank state- ments doesn't necessarily produce the most interesting tenant mix." S C T M a r c h 2 0 1 5 / S C T 49 S a r a h C o l e o f T h e h u n T S v i l l e T i m e S / a l . C o m . C E l E b r a t E l o C a l : E a s t o n t o w n C E n t E r , i n C o l u m b u s , o h i o

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