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Ali Shops Blog

Posts Tagged ‘lifestyle center’

Lifestyle center needs life

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Had an errand to run at Mall of America, a new store to see (Bling Apparel) at Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove and two kids to drag with me. I opted for Arbor Lakes this evening, mainly because it was a beautiful night and I thought it would be nice to stroll outside between stores and cap the outing with ice cream. Arbor Lakes is filled with popular chains and does boast a few local boutiques like Goodthings and Bluebird. The sidewalks are clean. The flowers are pretty. The piped in Sirius radio music that follows you everywhere is weird – and but one symptom of this center’s identity confusion. On real city streets, the sounds you hear come from people around you – chaos, horns, street musicians. If you want to create the feel of a town center, don’t act like a mall. I would have stayed longer, but after running my errands and stopping to let my boys observe the fountain for a few moments, there wasn’t anything to do. Where are the street entertainers? No, they’re probably not going to just show up way out in the burbs – but truck ‘em in. Lots of people want an audience. They should have live music every weekend evening on that plaza. How about a juggler? Or some artists displaying their work. Where are the sidewalk cafes that don’t face the parking lot? And since this is family central, why not create an outdoor play area – give Dad and the kid a place to frolic so Mom can linger in the stores. Instead, we piled back in the car and crossed the four (eight?) lane road, parked in the massive lot behind the faux Main Street and went to Coldstone Creamery. I couldn’t finish mine. Ice cream tastes better in the city.

Shoppes at Arbor Lakes responds

Monday, June 30th, 2008

The execs at Shoppes of Arbor Lakes had a comment or ten about my recent "MG boutique crisis" post. (As did some shoppers – check out their responses and weigh in.) They were quick to point out that Hot Mama and Goodthings aren’t the only local stores – National Camera Exchange, North Star Home Fitness, Let’s Dish and Pittsburgh Blue are also Minnesota companies. I didn’t mention those because I was focused on true boutiques – clothing and gift shops that might draw shoppers from other parts of the metro.
But here are some other points worth sharing from the marketing team at Arbor Lakes:
-"Retail is constantly evolving as trends change.  We work with our leasing department in order to find tenants with concepts that best reflect the market and compliment the existing mix of stores."
-"Rents are competitive with market pricing.  While I cannot disclose the nature and terms of our deals, we work with local tenants to ensure that the rents will definitely allow them to ‘pay the rent next door to a Pottery Barn or Gap’."
-"Rising gasoline prices and the housing downturn have been a factor in local and national tenant sales performance.  Bombay and The Sharper Image closed stores nationwide as a result of bankruptcy.  The economy is forcing retailers– both local and national– to close across the metro, not just in Maple Grove."
-"Our retail district features successful retail stores and restaurants such as Anthropologie, Trader Joe’s, Pottery Barn, and P.F. Chang’s that have limited locations in the Twin Cities.  These tenants, coupled with successful locally owned tenants do create a distinct retail environment.  Maple Grove features the second highest square footage of retail in Minnesota, second only to Bloomington."

All valid, interesting points. And it should be said that I enjoy the Shoppes on a sunny day, and if I lived nearby, I’m sure I would shop it all the time. But I don’t feel compelled to rush there from other parts of the Twin Cities on a regular basis, since you can find most of the stores elsewhere. The setting is nice and neat, but because it does break from the traditional mall, I’d like to see the tenant mix do more of the same. One shopper commented that perhaps no one is interested in local boutiques – Maple Grove has so much else to offer. Maybe that’s true – and hey, of course there are days when it’s easier to dash into the Gap than to browse little specialty shops – but all that sameness gets a little boring. | Mpls.St.Paul Magazine © 2008 MSP Communications, Inc. All rights reserved