Work, School, Play

In General, Retail Thoughts on February 18, 2010 at 9:13 am

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes good retail districts. The answer is people. Specifically, people who need services and goods and have money to spend on such services and goods…  So, the what is actually best understood by the where – Where are people clustered?  As I see it, people gravitate towards the following:

Employment & Opportunity.  People go (“rush”) to opportunity. This has and will always be the case.

from the gold rush to the dot-come bubble, people track opportunity.

Education. Universities create clusters of people.  Madison, Ann Arbor, New Haven, Berkley, Austin, Cambridge…

Activity & Recreation. People seek and travel to fun.  Think ski towns (Aspen, CO), beaches (South Beach, Miami, FL) and centers for the arts (Lenox, MA).

Employment and Education are two obvious drivers but I tend to forget how powerful recreation is to retail development. Massachusetts has Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod and the Berkshires.  Vacation towns, big and small, will continue to be great places to observe and experience retail.  I was just in one (at a ski town and thus my break from this blog) and had a great time examining the synergy between the mountains, the skiers and the shops.  The mountain is the constant – activity, people, retail, homes, hotels followed.

Find people working, studying or playing and you’ll likely find retail.  Find people doing two or more of the foregoing activities and you’ll find some of the best retail in the country.

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