Retailers upbeat over prospects for Grand Bazaar Shops on Strip

There’s an evolution going on at the Grand Bazaar Shops in front of Bally’s, and retailers are smiling a little more.

The open-air center that opened in February 2015 didn’t initially generate the traffic counts and sales that boutique retailers who sell everything from socks to jewelry had expected.

With more than 20 million people a year walking through the intersection of Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard South, Juno Property Group, the developer of the project, and its partner Caesars Entertainment Corp. and PWP Asset Based Value Strategy have found a way to get more people off the sidewalk and into its 2-acre plaza with more than 70 shops – bring in more food, drink and entertainment and people walking by will see it and sample it.

It started in July when Boston-based Wahlburgers, a restaurant of celebrity brothers Paul, Mark and Donnie Wahlberg opened. In August, Starbucks opened what’s being described as the coffee chain’s third largest store in the country, behind ones in Times Square and Disneyland. The 4,000 square-foot-plus store has stadium seating.

Sin City Brewing Co. opened its fourth Southern Nevada tasting bar in early November. Chicago-based Giordano’s, a deep dish pizza chain, is scheduled to open later this month with indoor and outdoor dining.

“It will be one of the coolest places to sit, have a slice of pizza, a drink and people watch on the Las Vegas Strip,” said Allen Bowman, general manager of the Grand Bazaar Shops.

Sports pub Born and Raised will open its third Southern Nevada location in 2017. Country music singer John Rich is opening a honky-tonk bar called Redneck Riviera in the first quarter of 2017. He will host a media tour of the bar on Friday.

All of that is welcome news to retailers, said Marco Revah, executive director of Lindberg’s, a European-based men’s store chain in Downtown Summerlin and the Grand Bazaar Shops. That’s especially true for some of those shops in corridors where traffic is lighter.

“Every shopping center has its ups and down, and the new restaurant anchors have brought in a lot of traffic so far and that’s good for me,” Revah said. “I’m on the corner, and the more people you get off the sidewalks, the more money you make.”

Lindberg’s epitomizes some of the shops. It has what Revah calls a pop-up shop with no mirrors or dressing rooms and measuring 700 square feet with a limited selection. That compares to its 24,000 square feet at Downtown Summerlin where it will sometimes limos people from the Strip if they want a bigger selection.

“This has a lot of potential because it’s not contained through opening and closing of shopping center doors and is on street level,” Revah said. “And you’re able to give people the time they want. Sometimes we stay open until midnight.”

STRONG TRAFFIC COUNTS

The Grand Bazaar Shops said its annual traffic through the end of November, calculated by detecting phone signals, showed 35.3 million people have passed by on the sidewalks or in the plaza itself. It says about 100,000 people a day are seen at the center and the weekend traffic exceeds 150,000.

“When we first opened up foot traffic was good and as we continue to grow, expand and evolve, the numbers are impressive,” Bowman said.

Bowman declined to talk about the occupancy numbers and how that has changed over the nearly two years the center has been open but admits some shops haven’t made it. Some stores have since been replaced with grab-and-go food and beverage places.

“It started out organically and grew to a strategic decision to populate those rows with food and beverage,” Bowman said. “With any new development during the first 18 months, there’s always some attrition as some retailers we allowed to open didn’t have their brand take off as well as we thought.”

PUSHING SOCIAL MEDIA

Grand Bazaar Shops uses social media to lure visitors and is counting on businesses like Sin City Brewing Co. and Born and Raised that have local customers to draw them to the site. More than 80 percent of the visitors are tourists, officials said.

“They can’t miss it while walking Las Vegas Boulevard,” Bowman said of the main marketing concept. “After opening a center, in the first 18 months to two years, you’re in a different place. We’re in a much stronger position. The center will grow and expand, and we will refine the merchandise mix on the retail side. As we finish construction of the restaurants and grab-and-go places, the future is incredibly bright.”

That’s what Sin City Brewing Co. President Rich Johnson envisions. There can be challenges for the outdoor portions of his establishment during bad weather, but the center’s courtyard is turning into a party atmosphere that’s going to benefit the food and retail establishments.

“There’s going to be quite of bit of opportunity from tasting our beers to country music at the Redneck Riviera,” Johnson said. “I like the vibe back there. “The evolution of the project is like they said it would be, and we can’t wait to see what we get when others come online. It will be quite the experience.”

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