Thomas Mark, President of MK Illumination and Member of the ACROSS Advisory Board. Credit: MK Illumination 
Opinion | Ticker

Together we stand, divided we fall

“How an old fable about the importance of unity can help center landlords and tenants thrive in the face of the coronavirus crisis.”

By Thomas Mark

Landlords and tenants in the retail real estate sector are facing an unprecedented challenge in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Not only do they need to weather the current storm, but they need to return stronger than ever, ready to compete with thriving online retailers and to serve a shell-shocked public who has had time to re-evaluate values and rethink what is important to them.

In 600BCE, Aesop wrote about the power of unity in a fable about a man and his quarrelling sons, demonstrating how a single stick is easily snapped, whereas a bundle of sticks is difficult for one man to break. This is a reminder from the past that the only way to overcome the long-lasting effects of events like the current crisis is for landlords and tenants to come together and work together. 

Aside from measures that landlords are taking to temporarily reduce rental burdens—essential if centers want to reopen with actual tenants in place—it’s necessary to look ahead and start implementing ideas that will build community, curate content, and create spaces for people to convene.Harvard professor Ryan Raffaelli identified these as key principles that helped brick-and-mortar bookstores bounce back in the face of competition from Amazon.com, and centers and malls can apply these to get through the current crisis, and to offer future added-value that online retailers cannot.

Building community means prioritizing community needs and experiences over transactions. After all, people can buy generic products anywhere, but they can’t buy community. This means offering what the ICSC calls a “third place” where people can come together outside of home and work. 

Curating content means offering people what they want and need. These may have shifted in light of recent events. The current focus is on local goods, reinvesting in the local economy, and supporting local businesses. Landlords and tenants can respond to this together, curating content in the form of products, services, experiences, and other offerings that are tailor-made for their local community.

By working on building community and curating content, landlords and tenants will be creating places for people to gather, or in the words of Raffaelli, to convene. Celebrating seasonal events and annual festivities like Harvest, Halloween, Christmas, and New Year is an important part of this. Rituals and annual celebrations create safe spaces in turbulent times, and light and design are essential in creating the right atmosphere for them. 

With that in mind, autumn and winter will be critical to centers. Now is the time for landlords and tenants to work together to show local communities that retail spaces are part of a bigger vehicle that allows people to gather and find community, something that will be in high demand as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

Sign up for our ACROSS Newsletter. Subscribe to ACROSS Magazine.

Ticker MORE

Special Issue “Going Forward!”

This online special will be available as a free download until April 25.

Castellana Properties to invest €15.6 million in expanding its food and leisure offering at Los Arcos

Castellana Properties has acquired a four-storey office building comprising over 4,600 sqm GLA from Aliseda. The building is adjacent to Los Arcos shopping centre and will now form part of an ambitious plan to transform and upgrade this space, with Castellana Properties set to invest a total of €15.6 million.

Finally a new date for Mapic Italy

Reed Midem recently announced that the event will take place on September 14 and 15, 2021 at a new location in Milan–the Superstudio Maxi.

Legal & General reimagines retail

With the much-anticipated reopening of non-essential shops finally here, businesses will be welcoming locals back into their stores. For one street in Poole, the 2021 easing of lockdown is particularly exciting: Poole’s Kingland Crescent has been completely revamped as part of LGIM Real Assets strategy to re-invent and re-position their retail places.

Mallson Polska acquires the EMPIK chain to C.H. Sekunda in Jędrzejów, Poland

The Empik chain will open its store in the region's largest retail and service facility, "Sekunda", in Jędrzejów. The store will occupy 170 sq m of leasable space.

The exhibition of painter Velimir Ilišević opened in Galerija Belgrade

The exhibition of painter Velimir Ilišević entitled „Striking roots“ is opened in the gallery space LAG within Galerija Belgrade. The series of paintings is a summary of Ilišević’s reflections on painting, while the choice of motifs symbolizes development and indicates his future achievements.