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Retail as Town Squares – How retail in the future may change to a model similar to pre-WWII

Internet retail has been cannibalizing traditional retailers, and continues to do so. Retailers need to think of new ways to attract customers.

From BRO reader Tom I. 

This article in The Atlantic is an interesting take on what future retail in America could look like. With Buffalo’s resurgence it would be interesting to discuss how this type of retail experience could manifest itself here. It is already apparent that the malls in this area are approaching this type of retail (mentioned in the article) by including new restaurants and activities (like go-karts).

Earlier, this week provided another such glimpse of the strange future of retail, in which going to a store is just as much about buying things as it is about being in a nice place—an “experience,” if you will. Nordstrom, a day before Apple’s event, announced that it will be opening a Nordstrom Local concept store next month in West Hollywood, in Los Angeles. The store will not stock clothes, or much of anything else. But it will have spa services, tailor, personal stylists, and a bar that serves beer, wine, coffee, and juice.

-The Atlantic

Luckily, downtown Buffalo was built and established (even flourished) before WWII and for sometime after it.  Much of the city is designed in a way that incorporates public spaces, like squares and circles into the street grid.  I wonder if these places could be where people will go in the future to shop and socialize again.  I also wonder if this article could be wrong, and that town squares will not be able to replace the suburban style mall.  

Even HarborCenter had a hard time making retail work in Downtown Buffalo, partially due to the lack of density at Canalside – Modern Nostalgia and Red Siren both closed. Maybe Buffalo’s working version of the Retail Town Square will be the new shopping experience at One Seneca Tower?

The Main Place Mall and closure of Main Street to traffic downtown was designed in a way that would blend urban with suburban shopping. Was it simply an idea ahead of its time or implemented incorrectly?  

Online shopping is certainly having dramatic effects on retail in America, and the recession accelerated much of this effect. I think now would be a good time to further discuss the retail possibilities that the city core could have, especially with the number of new hotels serving out-of-town travelers.

Written by BRO Reader Submission

BRO Reader Submission

We love to hear what the Buffalo community has to say. We offer a space to those who feel that they want to share their stories, without committing to writing ongoing articles. Typically reader submissions are one-offs that contribute to the broader Buffalo conversation.

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