Betting on Strong Sales in Las Vegas
Town Square, owned by Turnberry Associates and Centra Properties, is an open-air, super-regional lifestyle center in a downtown setting, where customers can drive through the streets and park in front of their favorite stores (there are 150). Shoppers and vacationers spend time at the 9,000-square-foot children’s park or visit one of 12 restaurants spread throughout 1.5 million square feet of retail and office space. Anchors include: Robb & Stucky Interiors, Borders, Whole Foods Market, ElevenSpa and Rave Motion Pictures, a state-of-the-art 18-screen theater.
Developing an outdoor specialty leasing program, not to mention finding new and creative uses to fill it, isn’t an easy job. But with twelve years of experience—having worked for both General Growth Properties Inc. and The Rouse Company—Susan Holland was ready for the challenge. Holland now not only manages a successful and innovative 21-cart specialty leasing program at Town Square Las Vegas, a 1.5 million square foot super-regional lifestyle center; she created it from the ground up just six months before its opening in November, 2007.
Driven by demographics
As part of her job, Holland has crafted license agreements, assisted with cart design and helped determine ideal cart locations. What Holland has created today is a specialty leasing program with innovative uses spread throughout the property. Specific areas are devoted to a certain demographic and the carts featured in each section cater to those demographics. For example, Town Square has a street devoted to juniors and carts here sell products aimed at their needs: cell phone covers, handbags, belts and buckles.
In the heart of the center is a 9,000-square-foot children’s park with a tree house, hedge maze and a theatre. This adjoins Town Square Park, measuring 5,300 square feet. Here, specialty retail tenants have an interactive, entertainment-driven focus that appeals to children. There are opportunities for photographs with exotic birds; an artist creates colorful landscape designs from spray paint and various-sized lids. For families making a day of it—some bring picnic lunches—there are retailers with products focusing on the great outdoors, including sunglasses, towels and sunscreen, and skate shoes for skating around the park.
Attracting the best
In the beginning, Holland’s goal was to attract as many experienced retailers as possible to ensure success. “Town Square was opening as an entirely new center and I needed the help and experience from those that were great at putting together a sales force” to get the job done, she says.
In turn, Holland stands behind her specialty retail veterans, offering support wherever she can. If a product fades—which they sometimes do—she will suggest a new one. For instance, “I had my NYS operator open additional carts, steel jewelry for a while and a pet accessory cart for a while. My cellular accessory operator has also opened a handbag cart. Both are still open,” she says.
Supporting the best
With two years under the center’s belt, today Holland is able to welcome, and encourage, the novice retailer, as well. “I work to make this a program that new people can enter into,” she says. For example, RoomMates by Jeva, featuring peel and stick appliqués for decorating walls, and the like, recently joined her program. “I [introduced] the concept at the children’s park and [now] the owner even dons a Spiderman outfit on event weekends to promote the RMU. They are beginning their fourth month and continue to respond to customers’ requests to pick up more Disney in the product line,” she says.
Another draw for the entrepreneurial retailer: In certain areas, Town Square tenants have the opportunity to open weekends only. “Weekend agreements are offered to those who may have special talents and/or other work obligations during the week. Concepts have included artists ranging in media from paint to caricature to henna, sponsorship tie-ins to local charity events who are relying on volunteers to work at the RMU, real estate agents and online grocery delivery services,” says Holland. Currently, there are six retailers operating under a weekend-only agreement, and 17 tenants on a monthly or yearly agreement.
Holland is not only resourceful in the tenants she attracts and pursues (perseverance is key, she says) but in other facets of her program, as well. Holland recently began quarterly training seminars, inviting retailers and their employees to join her for an hour discussion—with breakfast included.
Topics range from how to have fun at work to effective visual merchandising.
Drawing ideas from everywhere
Holland shares credit for her success with fellow specialty leasing professionals. “I have learned a great deal from other specialty leasing managers by discussing their programs with them and brainstorming ideas that may work for my lifestyle center.” Building and maintaining relationships is an important part of creating a successful leasing program, she says. Area specialty leasing managers meet on a regular basis for lunch, mall tours and trade shows.
Holland is aware of local competition and works hard to set the center apart from them. “We are outside! There is a bit of outdoor competition along the strip but we are primarily after the local Las Vegas market which sets us apart from the outdoor specialty retail programs on the strip and at the outlet. I am flexible for shorter terms with a lower initial investment,” she says.
In addition to Holland’s vast experience, her networking connections and her ability to draw unique tenants, it is the joy of taking a retailer to the next level, that fuels the growth of her program. “I remember opening an RMU with Candle Breeze when I was working with The Rouse Company in the Salt Lake City area. They now have many successful carts, independent distributors, and are in many Bed Bath & Beyond locations. That is exciting!” Holland says. “I would say that working with a brand new center has given me the opportunity to explore what drove me to love specialty retail to begin with.”
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