Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What Main Street Can Learn From The Mall

Robert Gibbs closely compares Main Street with large shopping and strip center malls. He believes that the downtown areas should take into consideration the entire appearance of the downtown, not just the stores themselves. Gibbs main criteria is as follows:
  1. Stores should be on the righthand side whereas coffee shops and cafes should be on the left. This matches with the flow of traffic.
  2. Downtown should be comfortable--sidewalks and roadways should be maintained, rest areas should not invite loitering, and police/security should be present to provide reassurance.
  3. Storefronts need to appeal to both the walking shopper as well as those driving through the downtown.
  4. Should have around 20,000sf of retail space to make the trip worthwhile to shoppers. Also, should contain well known stores as well as one-of-a-kind stores; shoppers like a good mix.
  5. Traffic should be slowed down in a downtown area so drivers cannot fly through, this gives drivers more time to look at store displays.
  6. Main Street should not be too fancy, attractive sidewalks and other features distract shoppers from what is important, the stores.
  7. Display name brands that are sold at stores; this makes the downtown more attractive.
I do not think that "Main Street" should be a mall; however, I do believe that it should resemble one. Downtown areas need to have slower traffic and similar displays to that of a mall to attract shoppers and invite them into the stores. Also, downtown areas need to have a lot of retail space along with well known and rare stores.

If I were to judge a Main Street, my checklist would be similar to that of Gibbs. Some things that would be important to me are:
  1. Good variety of stores, both name brand and one-of-a-kind.
  2. Clean walking area and inviting storefronts.
  3. High traffic area with slow automobile traffic.
  4. Comfortable shopping area as described above.

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