How Refinery 29 Plans to Save Malls
For the last year or so, retailers have seen dismal outlooks for malls across America. It's no secret that today's shoppers are looking for more than just products; they expect an experience. Simon Malls and Refinery 29 are trying to give them that. Refinery 29, one of the first websites to introduce fashion blogging as a business, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary by partnering with Simon Malls for a series of one-day pop-up shops called The Shopping Block. The collaboration between the fashion publication and commercial real estate firm is one of the first of its kind.
"We feel this is a huge opportunity to provide an all-encompassing customer experience," said Caitlin Engler, fashion sales director for Refinery 29. "We hope to provide a memorable experience and a way to connect at the Shopping Block. Retail is changing so quickly, and I think events, such as Refinery 29's partnership with Simon Malls, is just one way to bridge the gap between digital and brick-and-mortar, larger and local retailers."
The Shopping Block embraces new channels and offers interactive features such as a DIY bar, beauty stations and photo booths to hep attract digital-savvy millennial shoppers. I was most impressed with how the Shopping Block concept brought together smaller local brands with national big-box retailers.
"I love seeing all of the local creators and makers with larger retailers all within one event," said Ian Michael Crumm, a popular Philadelphia fashion blogger and host of the King of Prussia, Pa., event. "It's truly a unique experience."
Elizabeth Sieber, owner of the Omoi Zakka Shop, an indie boutique located in Center City Philadelphia, was one of the retailers who participated in the Refinery 29 event.
"I have nothing but good things to say about it," Sieber said. "It was a great experience and we got to meet a lot of cool people. I'm always really grateful to Refinery 29 and sites like it that pay attention to indie stores and understand that that's what gives every city its flavor."