As shopping evolves, the Mall at Wellington Green is evolving in response to what shoppers need and want.
Mall at Wellington Green Marketing Director Rachelle Crain and Community Liaison Meghan Buser spoke at the Wellington Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon Wednesday, Sept. 27 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Buser creates, organizes and facilitates special events, activities and meetings at the mall.
“This is an exciting program,” Crain said. “We’re delighted to bring it here to the business community, as well,” Crain said.
The mall is owned by Starwood Retail Partners, which owns 30 shopping malls and is the fifth largest shopping center owner in the country.
“We want to be a part of the community. We want to be engaged with our community. We want to utilize our space for the community,” Crain said.
As a result, a new program was started at the Mall at Wellington Green in the beginning of 2017 called Live360, which is a community-driven program transforming the mall into a gathering place for groups, focusing on three pillars: connections, imagination and community experience, Crain explained. The project kicked into high gear in June.
Live360 is a result of community input. Last October, a town hall meeting was held, Buser said, with roundtables on fitness, healthy eating, art programs and more, where mall officials asked the community what it was interested in.
“We even had one-on-one meetings,” Crain said.
Officials met with businesses in the community focusing on fitness, health, art, eating and other topics, and conducted a test program, “The Art of Living Locally,” in which 43 events took place over the course of three days.
The only two Starwood malls to participate were the Mall at Wellington Green and a mall in Ohio.
As a company, event data was evaluated and the Live360 program was created.
“The vision of the program is to create communities through imagination and experiences, where people can come together for product services and events. The notion for it is that community engagement is now the new form of entertainment,” Buser said. “We want people to put the phones down. We want people to interact together. By creating these special events and stepping outside of your comfort zone, this is more of a movement. It should be self-programmed, community-owned and we’re providing the location. We provide the space, and you provide the fun. We host it, you build it, and through that, we’re going to capture the fun and spirit through the Live360 program.”
The program provides a new way to think about the mall and the community, Crain said, and is a way for the mall, and retail stores in general, to stay relevant as the world changes.
Whether it is to play checkers or chess, hosting a book club, cooking classes or more, the mall is merging passions, anything from fitness and wellness to culinary classes, with indoor, air-conditioned space.
“It’s about creating an environment,” Buser said.
People passing by can engage with the space and activities, whether a musician wants to play, an artist wants somewhere with great lighting, or an area that can easily be cleaned up for crafts, the mall is able to work with the community to provide space for activities. “We are creating spaces with a community that knows best what to do,” Buser said.
The Girl Scouts have partnered with the mall, and recently, the Women of the Wellington Chamber worked on painting rocks with children at Palms West Hospital, which were then hidden at the mall.
Wellness, musical classes and more take place at the former American Apparel location, which Live360 is using as its home base. Fitness companies are offering teaser classes. There are special classes for seniors, and there is also the ability to drop off children. The drop-in rate for participants is $8, with a $5 rate for children.
“You see kids engaging. You see 12- to 18-year-olds putting their phones down and playing games. They’re playing chess and checkers. You can see the parents playing with children,” Crain said. “They were just having a ball, and they were reconnecting with each other.”
Live360 allows people to reconnect while at the mall. For example, after Hurricane Irma, there were free activities for children, including free food, while gaming centers and fitness classes were available in a safe, air-conditioned environment.
Under the Live360 platform is a program called Shop360. Every Live360 activity is an opportunity for Shop360, where a new brand can be introduced to the community that is related to an activity, where something created can be shared, and where brands can cross-sell. Shop360 is also hosted by the mall, but created by others.
An example would be the summertime green market at the mall with 10 to 12 vendors selling handcrafted items, plants and items that might be seen at a traditional outdoor market, all in the comfort of air conditioning. Events can be staged for one day, three days or even a month.
The Palm Beach Museum of Natural History, a touring museum, has a dinosaur show at the mall currently, and sells small gifts, creating a shopping and interactive location for the community.
Live360 will be rolled out at other Starwood malls in the near future. As the program continues to grow, it will change retail shopping and the way the community views a mall.
Live360 also has the opportunity to give back to the community through fundraising, activities, groups and more.
Everyone, Crain said, is welcome to be involved in the program. For more information, visit www.shopwellingtongreen.com/events.