As with my previous Nicollet Mall posting, I again have my queenly magic wand out. For Earth Day 2011, I am focused on creating the perfect green strip center. Think of it as THE DESTINATION Green Strip Center. Here is what we need to give people a new way to think about green retail:
Anchor #1: a green local food store. It could be a grocer like D’lish or a restaurant dedicated to local foods like Spoonriver. It MUST be a CSA drop off point for at least one CSA. Preferably more than one – such as a cheese or meat CSA and vegetable CSA. That drives people to the location every week to pick up their CSA boxes and give the center another reason to become a regular destination. It also must sell food that can be consumed on site at outdoor picnic tables.
Anchor #2: a resale shop on a large scale like ARC Value Village or Goodwill. The shop must accept both drop offs and be a well-merchandised shop. Other possible selections could be a consignment shop like Play It Again Sports, Plato’s Closet or Once Upon a Child.
Small-scale interior shops:
A toxin-free dry cleaners like Mulberrys.
A locally-owned coffee shop with free wi-fi and organic free trade coffees and tea like Peace Coffee
A printer cartridge recycler like Rapid Refill.
A nature oriented shop like Wild Birds Unlimited or an organic pet food store.
Do this right and a quick-serve restaurant like Chipotle will want to be a part of it, too.
Then, the key is to find a retail location that is adjacent to a bike trail, has room for outdoor seating areas, put in bike racks and select parking spaces for electric car charging stations. Dedicate a storefront as a community room adjacent to the coffee house that is available for meetings. Do a few other green things like a water permeable parking lot, rain gardens, beehives on the rooftop that produce honey available in the grocery or as an ingredient in the ice cream. Create a community marketer position who connects to the target market with relevant events and partnerships and you have the recipe for a successful new green destination retail strip center that differentiates the retailers who lease the space and the community that supports it.