By Mario Toneguzzi
Shopping centres today are spending more time developing and creating different and unique ways to entice consumers to spend more time in their malls.
Dwell times have become a buzz word in the retail industry. After all, the more time spent in a place the better the likelihood that more money will be spent as well.
The key for landlords across the country is creating those destination places that today include a greater element of entertainment and dining.
Earlier this year, it opened its fully redesigned Mega Parc with 18 rides, including 14 new ones, with a Steampunk theme as well as the first spokeless Ferris Wheel in North America.
Next to open and enhance the customer experience is an impressive new food hall, Les Galeries Gourmandes, which is scheduled to open October 9.
“It’s a great addition to Les Galeries de la Capitale. Our mall has been renovated. We added Mega Parc last January and the food market will be a great addition to bring people to enjoy the shopping centre but then get something fresh to go home. We will have a fish monger, sausage, cheese, bread, cookie dough, donuts, flowers and many other uses,” said Marie-Christine Paré who is Senior Property Manager at Oxford.
“We’re going to have a demo kitchen as well with many exhibitions. We plan to have 250 exhibitions per year minimum just to make sure that people can taste and try and can learn some cooking tips to make sure they can bring food home and have great ideas - to live the experience of a food market in a shopping centre.”
The food hall will have two restaurants - RICARDO Boutique + Café is already open and the second restaurant by Restos Plaisirs will open in December but a name for that establishment has not been announced yet.
Paré said there will also be another 20 tenants in the Les Galeries Gourmandes which will occupy 46,000 square feet.
The l’Atelier Gourmand is a 48-seat demo-kitchen space. The management of the calendar for that space was entrusted to Eventouch, a specialized firm in culinary events.
The list of confirmed merchants for the food hall are:
À chacun son pain. Bakery
Aliments Victorius. High quality sausages
Beignes d’Antan. Donuts
Boucherie Florent & Fils. Butchery
Cookie Bluff. Raw cookie dough
Élodie Fleuriste. Flower counter
Jos Croustilles. Homemade chips
Kanel. Salt and spices mix
Laiterie Charlevoix. Fine cheese
Les Canardises. Duck products
Les Cochons tout ronds. Delicatessen
Ma Cabane en Gaspésie. Maple products
Nutra-Fruit. Québec cranberry products
Pied Bleu. Delicatessen cooked meat counter
Poissonnerie Némeau. Fish counter
“We’ve seen food and beverage increases in the world. It increases in Canada. At Oxford, we believe that food and beverage is very important,” said Paré. “Yes people want to come and shop. They want to have fun. We have the Mega Parc. But they also want to eat. They want to taste new stuff. They want to see who made it. They want to have the contact with the person that made the cheese or the bread. That’s all the experience. It’s getting popular.
“Also for us, people will stay longer in our mall. They will come more often. They will want to discover their local bread or local little fish monger or new product . . . It’s the third one in Oxford Properties. The other two are in Newmarket and Mississauga.”
Les Galeries de la Capitale has existed for about 40 years. The Mega Parc was an addition in 1988 and the renovation to Mega Parc cost $52 million.
“The renovation of the mall is all finished. The mall looks beautiful. So if people haven’t come in the last couple of months or for years, they should come back because it has changed a lot. Oxford believes in this property. This asset has the momentum. People like us. They love us in Quebec City. Even tourism,” said Paré.
“We’re talking about shopping centres have a difficult time. Well in Les Galeries de la Capitale the reality is quite different. Our traffic is increasing. Our dwell time is increasing. Our sales per square feet are increasing. So we’re very happy about it. People want something different. When they see a place that’s renewed, and listened to what customers want, I believe they trust us, they follow us and they want to come back. They rediscovered Les Galeries de la Capitale. I think that’s what’s going on.”
And obviously when the new food market opens that’s only going to add to the momentum.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.