Oakridge Mall to Oakridge Living City… are we seeing the birth of Retail Redefined?

I was recently in Vancouver with my wife to see Justin Timberlake, I know, don’t judge.  I may or may not have a little man crush here. While visiting different cities, I love to go shopping.  Not to shop so much as to explore and see what various cities, districts and malls are doing to innovate and stay relevant with their customers.  

This particular trip we decided to head out to Oakridge Mall.  I had never been. Always stayed downtown and cruised Robson or Granville or headed over to Pacific Centre Mall. But I’m so glad we ventured out somewhere new this time.

Oakridge is semi upscale, with a ton of designer stores and jewellery shops like Harry Rosen, Crate & Barrel, Aritzia and a bunch of major label stores.  But none of those are what caught my eye.  In our wandering, my wife pointed out a fairly unassuming storefront that was just called Oakridge Living City and you couldn’t even really see inside.  You could see a wall literally covered top to bottom in vegetation.  Intriguing to say the least.  To enter, one of us had to register our names and email address. No biggie, I gave my dummy registration email address out and in we went.   You guys, this concept is a crazy but brilliant meld of innovation, retail, green space, art, architecture, urban living, food, and culture.  Like somebody’s crazy utopian vision of what urban living could be without any of the theoretical, idealism.  Just a build it and they will come sort of thing. If we didn’t have to leave to eat dinner pre date with my man crush, I could have stayed there all afternoon asking questions and finding out as much as I could about the concept.  

To be clear, this is a location developed to sell the condo developments, but it is also so much more.  It’s a concept created by dreamers, to innovate and change the way we live in major centres like Vancouver, that bridges our concerns for environment vs convenience, needs vs wants, urban living vs green space and puts them all together in a visually stunning future development on a single parcel of land.  I’ve linked their promotional video and website at the end of this blog and I highly recommend you have a quick watch.

This concept has got me thinking though…. what is the future of retail?  We are constantly talking about the more pressing battle of e-commerce vs bricks and mortar, and the ever-present buzzwords of the retail apocalypse because they have a more immediate impact.  But what about 10 years from now, 20 years?  What will the retail landscape look like then?

Like it or not, the world is getting smaller, we are more connected and more social than ever before, albeit in different ways.  Think about the last 10 years and how rapidly things have changed.  What is in store for the next decade?  I think we are in for some really interesting and cool concepts that are about to emerge, like the one above, Oakridge Living City.  What a concept.  Is the future of retail about to be redefined by concepts like these?  Of micro cities built within cities, of repurposing the dying shopping malls into mini centres of a mix of art and culture and food and recreation and curated retail experiences to fit the desires of the micro cities’ populations?  I don’t know.  Nobody can know, but I for one got pretty excited to see where our potential as retailers could take us!

Here’s the video that has my mind wandering all sorts of places!  

Take a look at their website and see for yourself!  https://oakridgevancouver.ca/living-city

Marc

Marc Beerling

Marc has worn every hat a retailer can wear and now puts his experience and expertise to work helping other retailers increase sales, improve cash flow and ultimately improve profitability. He often says with a grin that he’s “Proudly made every mistake you can possibly make in retail and business ownership. Thankfully, I’ve learned from every single one of them.” Marc began as a Canadian Retail Solutions client in 2012. He saw the science behind it work so well as a tool in his business, that it was soon apparent that he needed to learn how to help other retailers, whether large or small, turn their business around, become profitable, improve cash flow and more importantly help retailers sleep at night!

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