California Centers

SEP 2017

California Centers Magazine serves retailers, developers, shopping center owners, investment sales brokers and tenant representation firms throughout the state of California.

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30 California Centers Magazine | September 2017 C C Caruso Affiliated, owner of the Grove and the Americana at Brand in Los Angeles, is working to hone its successful holiday strategies, which also begin in the parking lot. Caru- so's targets, however, are ubiquitous rideshare services like Lyft and Uber. The firm's efforts began in 2014 when guests at the two shopping centers were offered complimentary round- trip UberBLACK car rides between Black Friday and Christmas Eve if they spent more than $450 during one outing. The company has taken it a step further this year by offering hot chocolate, apple cider and bottled water at its designated rideshare pick up/drop off locations. Though shoppers could, of course, make a cup of hot chocolate at home where they can also shop online, Clarice Clarke, president of Lee & Associates Central Coast, be- lieves the energy and celebratory at- mosphere associat- ed with the holiday spirit can compel shoppers out of their slippers and into the centers — as long as they have something to look forward to. "The alternative of purchasing ev- erything online is so compelling," she says. "To get people off the couch and into the mall, shopping center owners need to create an experience that will draw consumers to their centers. They will have to be more creative and offer something fun and different, together with traditional elements of holiday activities, such as Santa and carolers." PUTTING THE SPIRIT BACK IN THE SEASON While the obligatory mall Santa or Winter Wonderland ice rink are holi- day staples, Clarke believes there are many other creative endeavors that can set one shopping center apart from another. "If parking is tight in a center, free valet service should be offered," she notes. "Some property owners have also obtained permits that allow the consumption of beer and wine throughout their shopping centers, which seems to be working. It cre- ates a casual and fun vibe, and helps increase traffic. I believe that people open their wallets more easily after a bit of holiday cheer in a glass." The holiday spirit also tends to bring out the emotional side of shoppers as they think about, buy presents for and host the ones they love during the last few months of the year. Centers that add a little convenience or cheer to an otherwise pressure-filled buying sea- son can win over the hearts of many loyal consumers in the critical final shopping days of 2017. Shea Properties goes out of its way to provide a specific type of cheer to families with special needs with the introduction of Silent Santa at The Col- lection at RiverPark, a 750,000-square- foot shopping center in Oxnard. The quiet version of Saint Nick is geared toward children with hearing impair- ment, Autism or other special needs who may become overwhelmed by the sights and sounds associated with a more traditional meet-and-greet ex- perience. The kids are still able to in- teract with the Man with the Bag and have their photo taken, albeit in an environment more conducive to their comfort. "Silent Santa is one of our favorite events," says Michael Pynn, the cen- ter's general manager. "We want the season to be magical for all of our guests, and we strive to make sure ev- eryone who visits the center has a pos- itive experience." The Collection also hosts traditional events that guests have come to expect from their shopping centers during the holiday season. This includes an annu- al tree lighting celebration capped off with performances from local artists, a welcome from Santa and a fireworks show. Pynn is quick to point out, however, that although these holiday events are always a warm welcome, it's crucial to develop that emotional connection with a center's local res- idents and likely visitors well before the holiday season approaches. "Standing out from the crowd can be incredibly diffi- cult, which is why we don't just start reaching out to our guests during the holiday season," he explains. "We spend the entire year cre- ating a place where our guests celebrate their special mo- ments. First day of school outfits are purchased at our center. Couples get engaged in our restaurants. Four-legged family mem- bers are adopted at our property." Hecht notes that the connection and bond a shopping center owner strives to form with its consumer base is not about capitalizing on their emotions, fears or holiday stresses. Rather, it's about creating a relationship based on mutual respect and admiration that extends through all platforms. "While committed to innovating our holiday programming each year, we nonetheless are careful to do so in a way that respects traditions and re- spects what our customers expect from us," he says. "Ease, convenience and service have been great ways to distin- guish what a visit to Westfield means during the busy holiday season." Pynn believes the notions of respect and understanding should not just apply to seasonal programming in- side the shopping centers, but to all modes of communication, at all times throughout the year. "Being invited into someone's so- cial network is a very personal form of communication," he says. "For most people, this is also a primary way they communicate with their family and closest friends. To be involved in that conversation requires a respect of your consumer. Then, when your center has special meaning for guests, it is natu- ral for them to celebrate the season at the property as well. [This is how you] create a space where guests can cele- brate all year long, especially during the holidays." CC Clarice Clarke President Lee & Associates Central Coast Michael Pynn General Manager, The Collection at RiverPark Shea Properties

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