WELLINGTON, Fla. - — Malls across the country are battling against falling foot traffic and store closures as more people shop online, but a local mall is taking steps to remain relevant and bring more shoppers and families through the door.
The Mall at Wellington Green has seen its fair share of turnover, and in April one of its anchor stores, Nordstrom, closed down. The mall is now focusing on entertainment and experiences, and it’s hoping a new restaurant has the recipe for success.
When you walk inside Ford’s Garage at the Mall at Wellington Green, it’s like walking down memory lane. Old 1920’s model A cars hang over the bar, old-style gas pumps sit in the corner and toolboxes are used for host stands.
“We have a lot of stuff here for people to see that they get excited about they take a lot off pictures and put it on social media,” said Marc Brown, president of Ford’s Garage.
The burger and beer joint opened on the West Coast of Florida about six years ago, and it’s expanded into other cities. On Monday, Ford’s Garage officially cut the ribbon and opened its first location in South Florida.
“For us it was about making sure that the first site we came into was going to be an A+ site for us, and we found that here at Wellington,” Brown said.
After losing Nordstrom, and with big box stores closing across the country, the Mall at Wellington Green has a new vision, which includes providing more things to do and adding more restaurants and entertainment.
“We’re in a retail climate where we’re seeing a lot of retailers shift their focus to online and it’s leaving vacancies, but we’re filling them with local tenants and regional tenants that have more of a community flair to them,” said Rachelle Crain, marketing director at the Mall at Wellington Green.
The mall has been hanging banners to help shoppers better connect with their community. It’s also relaunching its Live 360 brand in July.
The mall is adapting. It rolled out a Live 360 Reading Room, a community library to donate or borrow a book, and the Live 360 Studio, which is a community space for yoga, art classes, and meetings.
“It’s a place for the community to curate different programs and to share their talents in what makes Wellington unique,” Crain said.
With the residential boom in the area, the mall will also be opening two new home furnishing and design stores. No plans have been made yet for the old Nordstrom location.