As retail centers and malls across the nation struggle to keep tenants open and thriving, The Greene Town Center in Beavercreek is luring local, small businesses to meet consumer trends.
The retail center, which opened about 11 years ago, has added several locally owned retailers within the last few months, in a push to give consumers a new kind of shopping experience.
“There’s definitely a buzz out there for locally sourced items. Consumers want to be familiar and have accessible to them local items. I think it’s a growing trend, and I think as mall developers look for adding space, obviously those opportunities exist,” said Gordon Gough, president and CEO of the Ohio Council for Retail Merchants.
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The shopping center’s tenant mix is comprised of about 20 percent of locally owned retailers, said Steve Willshaw, general manager of The Greene.
Though chain retailers like Macy’s, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s employ millions of people across the nation, the majority of retailers are small businesses, according to the National Retail Federation. More than 98 percent of all retail companies employ fewer than 50 people, the NRF found.
The retail industry is vital to a strong economy as one in four jobs are supported by the retail industry in the U.S. In Ohio, retail supports 1.6 million jobs and makes up 16 percent of the total state gross domestic product.
That boils down to more than 135,477 retail establishments across Ohio. Those establishments, especially chain retailers, are being disrupted by quickly changing consumer patterns. Faster than ever, shoppers are abandoning brick-and-mortar stores for online shopping.
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In March, retail sales grew just 0.3 percent compared to February and 2.8 percent compared to the same time in 2016, according to the National Retail Federation. However, online sales jumped more than 11 percent compared to the same time last year.
Locally, stores like RadioShack, Ann Taylor, The Limited, Family Christian, MC Sports and BCBGMAZAZRIA have all closed locations. Larger department stores like Macy’s and J.C. Penney have not closed locations in the Dayton region this year.
Willshaw said The Greene constantly pivots toward what shoppers want. New tenants at The Greene that have opened within the past year include: ULTA Beauty, Integritas Shoes, J.Crew Mercantile, Blinded by Aerolux, Griffin & Co., Deg’s Flame Grilled Chicken, Synergy Blend and JaeLuxe Shoetique.
A new decor and gift shop called Griffin & Co. opened in early May. The store, which was previously located in the Town & Country Shopping Center since August 2014, will be located at 4392 Holly Drive. That space was occupied by The Limited clothing store before it closed in December.
A locally owned shoe store, JaeLuxe Shoetique, will also open in mid-June in a 1,500-square-foot retail space on Magnolia Lane next to Pandora store. The store sells high fashion wear, handbags, accessories, club wear and designer shoes. JaeLuxe has already been in business through its website for about three years.
“These are things you’re not going to find at your local store,” Owner April Polk said.
Customers will be able to order items online and pick them up at the store. Polk said she’s felt welcomed by The Greene, and is excited to open soon. The Greene is also talking to several new prospective tenants to fill vacant space, and Willshaw said the staff tries to personalize recruiting efforts — making visits to prospective local tenants and working closely with stores to suit their needs.
“We’ve got a lot of irons in the fire,” Willshaw said.
As trends change, retailers have to become “destination experiences” — something The Greene says they’ve done since day one. Willshaw said the center will continue to focus on that effort by hosting a packed calendar of summer events and even adding a new airplane-inspired playground for children.
Willshaw said the center does not disclose how much space is vacant, but a 4,300-square-foot space was left empty when World of Beer pulled out of plans to open a store near The Greene’s front entrance on Indian Ripple Road.
Gough said the retail industry is seeing changes faster than other industries, forcing stores to become innovators and entrepreneurs.
“That’s the life blood of retail,” he said. “So you’re just seeing changes in retail faster than other industries based on that. You’re also seeing innovation continue to come out of retail.”
BY THE NUMBERS
• 134,477 retail establishments in Ohio
• 1.6 million jobs supported by the retail industry statewide
• 16 percent of the total gross domestic product impact in Ohio
Source: National Retail Federation
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