2017 R ena i s s anc e P l an U pdat e | T own of W ak e F or e s t
5.2 Retail Positioning & Tenanting Strategy
While the physical form of downtown Wake Forest might suggest its potential as a destination “Main Street”, its appeal will ultimately need to be grounded in more than its small-town charm. A compelling “sense of place” is necessary, but it will not, in this case, be sufficient. In addition, attention will need to be paid to the nuances and complexities of the retail mix. Specifically, the tenants that fill the storefronts cannot just be any tenants, but ones that complement and can generate cross-traffic for each other, which underscores the importance of adjacencies and clustering. Such considerations are foremost in the minds of shopping-center developers as they plan and lease their projects, they must be for downtowns as well. With this line of thought, downtown Wake Forest’s existing retail mix becomes the starting point for its positioning and tenanting strategy. That is, what kinds of customers are its most popular businesses (and non-retail uses) already attracting? Are there new concepts or additional lines of merchandise that can increase their expenditures further?
The first shopper is convenience-driven and will tend to buy such goods and services where, put simply, it is easiest and fastest to do so. In an automobile-dominated part of the metro, this implies locations along arterial roads, with free and ample parking — like, for instance, the intersection of Rogers Road and Heritage Lake Road, or of NC 98 Bypass and South Franklin Street (Village Pharmacy). Downtown Wake Forest is not well-suited to cater to this customer. The second is commodity-driven and wants to spend the afternoon comparison-shopping (for clothing, shoes, accessories), but in an environment and from a range of choices that she already knows. She is not looking for a novel experience or a distinctive setting. So she heads, to the super-regional mall, like Triangle Town Center or Crabtree Valley Mall, where she can find a large and predictable selection of national brands. This is not downtown Wake Forest. The third is interested in spending a leisurely afternoon (or evening) outside her car and in the open air, enjoying a walkable and “browse-worthy” place. One that she can experience on a number of levels and even in unexpected ways, with options for food, fun, people-watching and unique shops. Perhaps the closest example would be Lafayette Village, though this sort of positioning could also work for downtown Wake Forest, albeit with a slightly different formula.
Sub-markets are not only defined in demographic or even psychographic terms, however, but also, by their consumer purpose or “mission”. Shoppers have very different mindsets when they are taking care of daily errands, when they are looking for wardrobe staples, when they are buying big- ticket comparison goods, and when they are enjoying a leisurely Saturday afternoon.
5.2.1 Why Not “Arts & Entertainment”?
The “Arts & Entertainment” identity of the earlier Renaissance Plan might have been ahead of its time in 2003, but it presents as somewhat generic and dated today, lacking
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