“The future of retail is not in the mall.” 

John Kane of Kane Realty, the developer behind North Hills in midtown Raleigh, shared this recently. And he’s absolutely right. A new, enclosed mall has not opened in the U.S. since 2006, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. And retailers are closing stores or pausing their expansion plans to reassess the market. Thanks to online shopping, people order from wherever they are with one click and simply wait for a delivery. And with that same click, the reason most people go to a retail center is deleted. So how is North Hills staying ahead of this curve in retail?

“There has to be a reason for you to go to a retail center.”

This serves as both Kane’s business plan and forecast for North Hills. To combat this shift in retail, he’s creating an experience for his patrons, providing great service, and allowing people to truly shop local. It’s an experience that is anchored in the “bricks” of retail stores, and bolstered by the addition of theaters, gyms, concert venues, and eating establishments. Together, this creates a lifestyle center that reflects the tastes and makeup of the local Midtown communities. To make it all work, Kane looks to extend the experience within the “bricks” to the “clicks” of patrons online.

Shifting the focus from bricks and mortar to bricks and clicks.

“The biggest trend you will see in retail is companies trying to get the right balance of an online experience and an in-store experience,” said Kane. To achieve that, the North Hills full-time events team, Midtown Events, makes sure they keep the North Hills calendar full.  Visit the North Hills site and you’re immediately asked, “What do you want to do in North Hills today?” Enter your answer in the search bar or simply scroll down to discover dozens of concerts, a farmers’ market that runs for 30 weeks, a wine festival, kids’ business expo, fall family festival, iron chef competition, free outdoor fitness classes, and holiday-specific events. Anna Zevenhuizen, Special Events and Marketing Manager, understands that by weaving the events into the online shopping experience, visitors to their site are given a reason to shut their computer and visit North Hills in person. “The calendar of special events along with our movie theater, bowling alley, kids cooking school, restaurants, bars and coffee shops make North Hills an entertainment hub for the city. Having a strong events program has become a critical part of running a successful mall or shopping district.” Sharing it online in an engaging and easy-to-navigate way is clearly another critical part.

For our next blog in this Bricks & Clicks series, we’ll delve into how North Hills is blending bricks and clicks in their stores and with their patrons, so stay tuned.