OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Malls across the country are shutting their doors and the ones still open are looking for ways to adapt to the changing clientele. A recent national study found 40-percent of shoppers pick their mall not based on the stores, but by what food is sold there.
Flagship Commons at the Westroads Mall is one of the malls benefiting from this. Opened in 2016, the food hall is a place where patrons can eat from local vendors, relax or come for a work meeting.
"As soon as we opened up we saw big change in clientele from a traditional food court to more family-friendly, more business people," said Jim Sadler, the senior general manager at Westroads Mall. "It's not uncommon to come up here during lunch and see folks come up here with several laptops out, enjoying a glass of wine, enjoying lunch and being in a relaxed atmosphere where they can have a full meeting."
The mall's idea is the more time shoppers spend in a mall, the more cash they spend.
"I think any time where you get in to a situation where you see some contraction in the market, any time you can become that shopping district, shopping area, shopping mall, that has something unique that will bring people out and they'll want to take advantage of the new thing out there in the retail world, you definitely want to be out in the forefront," Sadler said.
In fact the Flagship Commons area was so successful that Westroads Mall is adding a lounge, where shoppers can relax, meet with colleagues and play games.
"It just gives people a comfortable spot to rest and relax and that way they don't feel so hurried to rush out," Sadler said.
And as malls look to move towards millennial shoppers, a souped up food court might be the difference between getting slice of the shoppers pie or closing for good.
"If you get a bad reputation on a food court it's like having a bad store in your mall," Sadler said. "Nobody will want to come."