How to Make a Retail Destination

01/25/2019

When the technology age began, brick and mortar stores were met with competition from online retailers for the first time.  Since this purchasing option’s genesis, the perpetual debate began about whether in-person transactions were a thing of the past for shoppers.  This is anything but the case: according to ICSC, 78% of consumers still prefer in-store shopping experiences, with an average of 2.2 purchases per month online versus 7.5 times monthly at shopping centers.  So, clearly, the debate is not much of one – people want to see, touch and assess the merchandise in person before they buy.  What, then, do landlords and retailers do to attract these consumers away from the screens and into the stores?  We examined a thriving retail destination to decide: Village at Leesburg.

  1. Bring a Retail Heavy Hitter
    A great starting point is the tenant mix, specifically the big box anchors that shape a marketplace. Nationally recognized grocer Wegmans is one of the major retailers at Village at Leesburg, drawing 26% of households across the primary trade area at least once-a-week*.  When consumers are familiar with at least a few established brands, the strategy to promote the rest of the retailers and offerings becomes easier simply through proximity to the heavy hitters.
  2. Create Memorable Moments
    Engage and support the community by cultivating an event calendar with fun and exciting festivities to bring the neighborhood together.  Village at Leesburg does it right, creatively timing events to the season such as the sixth annual Winter Ice Festival and Mega Block Ice Carving Competition held on January 19th.  Beyond that, offering experiential and entertainment retailers such as Cobb Theatres, Bowlero and Atomic Trampoline give the crowds something to do every day of the year.  With all these options, shoppers will discuss their adventures to friends, family, and on social media.  Word-of-mouth promotion is invaluable to retail destinations, giving the center free advertising trusted most by new and returning patrons.
  1. Offer Incredible Eats
    With a wide variety of dining opportunities for the thrifty, the in-and-out and the decadent shoppers, Village at Leesburg creates an all-day affair for visitors with delicious cuisines like BurgerFi, Plaza Azteca, Noku, Firebirds, Fractured Prune, and more.  From fast-casual conventional eats to full-service boutique bistros, all walks of life can dine in a manner that best suits their needs.  Loudoun County’s first culinary incubator, Chefscape, or “French-inspired, California-American” Vino Bistro, both open now, add excitement to the center with ever-changing and sought-after choices.  Celebrity status adds an additional enticement to an already stacked repertoire of dining destinations: Halloween Wars winner Santosh Tiptur indulges guests’ sweet tooth with chocolate-infused artisanal dishes at The Conche, heightening appeal for on-the-fence Loudoun County residents to experience the famed culinary creations of an esteemed chef.
  1. Facilitate an R&R Atmosphere

    In 2016, a two-year, $6 million renovation of Village at Leesburg infused the common areas with ambient fire pits, copious outdoor seating, fountains and other features to enhance the retail experience. When “Drink in the Good Life” was unveiled, a program permitting shoppers to stroll the streets with their favorite alcoholic beverage in hand, Village at Leesburg surpassed the exclusively consumerist atmosphere of a traditional shopping center.  Now, Loudoun County residents think of Village of Leesburg for more than just a place to shop, but also a place to dine, entertain, socialize, relax and recharge.

  2. Give People What They Want
    Observing the rising demand, Cobb Theatres chose to add five new theatres to their Village at Leesburg location. By recognizing increased leg room would lead to higher customer satisfaction, a partnership between consumer and retailer was forged.  Shoppers will keep coming back if they feel their requests are valued by the retailers, property managers, and landlords.  To truly create a retail destination, a customer-centric atmosphere is a must.

We continually strive to enhance Village at Leesburg, Loudoun County’s premier town center for all things shopping, dining and entertainment.  For leasing opportunities, please contact Rappaport’s Senior Director of Leasing and Brokerage, Susan Bourgeois.

*Village at Leesburg 2018 Trade Area Study, Alexander Babbage