Creating a retail experience
Nikki Syverson 
Director, Capital Crossroads 

Please identify one trend in your area to watch in the upcoming year.
One trend to watch for is the emphasis on placemaking in the retail environment. Today’s consumers, especially the large consumer mass of millennials, don’t want to just go to a store, they want an experience. That starts with the neighborhood. What feeling does the shopping district evoke? What makes it unique? And, most importantly, what makes people want to come back to that shopping district?
Could you please explain the impact of that trend?
Focusing on placemaking and district identity is one strategy of the Downtown Retail Plan that was released at the end of 2018. Creating a unique overall shopping experience is critical to enticing shoppers to come through the doors versus simply clicking online. In today’s tech-driven world, consumers crave an experience. Whether it’s investing in public art, creating places to gather or hosting special events, creating a compelling reason to visit a destination also creates repeat customers.

One district that has really made placemaking a focus is the Avenues along Grand and Ingersoll. From the new district branding to investing in murals, they are working collectively to give the neighborhood a distinct feel and attraction. As our downtown neighborhoods continue to grow and evolve, we’ll see similar strategies employed. For instance, the “West End” is a burgeoning area within the Western Gateway that’s gaining traction as a niche area for creatives through its range of artistic shops and entertainment venues. In the future, in addition to distinct district branding, we’ll see more shops, restaurants and public art experiences that feed off the funky, artistic vibe of the area.
Investing in place is beneficial for all. It creates more vibrant neighborhoods; draws consumers in the doors, which helps our small businesses’ bottom lines; and in turn, bolsters our local economy. Soon we’ll see that it’s not just something that’s nice to have, it will become a must-have for retailers both big and small.