Mayfair Mall -- No Riff-Raff Please

A friend told me a rumour: Mayfair Mall is booting some of its tenants. I was curious why and popped to the mall to check out what's up. I had to drive by the wrap-up of a SWAT team take down two blocks away. In the mall, police were prevalent looking at all of the shoppers searching for someone. Later came word that they were serving a warrant at the Traveller's Inn and it's unclear why they were combing over the mall.
35+ year old Mayfair Mall is the nearest mall to the troubled Rock Bay industrial area. It used to have a wide mix of stores: a meat shop, kitchenware, bookstores, toy stores, Woodwards and its food floor, pharmacies and clothing stores. That variety appears to be dwindling.
By January, Mayfair will have kissed good-bye to Build-A-Bear, Spencer Gifts and Blue Notes. Mayfair is opting to not renew their leases. Fans of Spencers Gifts have started a Facebook group. Mayfair Mall appears to be narrowing its focus to being a "fashion" mall of clothing stores appealing to 20-something women. If that's their goal, I wish them luck. Into the 1980's, department stores were active in the consumer marketplace: they had everything from toys to gardening, grocery to garters. Stores started to lop out product variety. In the 1990s, retail chains popped off of the landscape. Eaton's was the most telling. They were fashion-heavy. When they survived near oblivion, they came back and heavily invested in being fashion-centric to the exclusion of most of their other products. And they tanked and disappeared. Conversely, retailers like Wal-Mart dominate the marketplace by having something for almost everyone. This is a hard lesson that has denuded the retailer ecology.
It's a lesson that Mayfair Mall needs to pay attention to. Malls are effectively balkanized department stores with 100 departments (stores) that different people shop at. Mayfair's product mix is narrow enough to make it my third choice for a mall (#1 is Hillside; #2 Tillicum). I have a family. We choose a mall based on whether a place has something for everyone when we shop for sport (c'mon: on Black Friday how can shopping not been seen as something between a bloodsport and a pastime). Losing Spencers and Build-A-Bear is not enough to ignore Mayfair. But if I were a retailer not selling fashion, I would be concerned when the lease expires. Has Mayfair developed a conscious no-riff-raff approach to its retailer mix? The store with the bongs is getting tossed. The store selling teddy bears is out. Are they going to toss the cigarette shop; the game stores; or the candy store?
Mayfair is well within its rights to decide who holds a lease in the mall, but it's consumer-building approach isn't going to work. The customer make-up of the mall is not ideal-- they're consumers who spent too much money in shops instead of being thrifty. Swapping out shops is not going make Mayfair Mall be in a ritzy part of town or stop fugitives from Traveller's Inn from taking refuge in the remaining stores.


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