Going for that Disney Look

Here's an article about how shopping centers are trying to change their look.

That's because, in addition to outdoor dining, there are sidewalks that encourage roaming, benches that invite visitors to sit awhile and tropical landscaping throughout.

"I think this is a very appealing center," said Riojas, who, along with Mabry, noticed the center from their office across the street. "It just called to us to come and see."

And getting noticed is important in this competitive market where new strip malls are popping up all the time — and consumers are finding that they crave that "Main Street" feeling in their day-to-day shopping and dining experiences.

Terry Stone, the manager of the Melbourne Main Street Program, charged with the revitalization of the downtown Melbourne area, says the appeal comes from a desire to stroll, rather than rush. Something that's not only relaxing for patrons, but good for retailers.

"Even the landscaping is part of the whole philosophy of the program because it's done in a way that entices you to continue the walk," Stone said. "And, hopefully, to visit as many shops along the way as possible."

I live about an hour from Orlando, so Mrs. Businesspundit and I do go over to Downtown Disney sometimes to have dinner and maybe even shop. It's so bright and colorful – it is just a fun place to be. Now there is a shopping center a few miles from our house that has been redone this way. It has rich colors, some new palm trees and landscaping, and a look more like Downtown Disney, or a town square. We rarely shop there, but as we drove by one day I commented that the new look made me want to stop and walk around even though I didn't need anything. Again this goes back to Virginia Postrel's book The Substance of Style. She was on the money with her analysis. In an increasingly competitive world, aesthetics matter more and more.

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It used to be that companies had a CEO, CFO and COO. In the last decades we have added CIO. I wonder if CAO (chief aesthetics officer) is coming up. I think in the future, companies will need a person to oversee the aesthetics of product design, work environment, etc. Aesthetics will be, for some companies, a source of competitive advantage.