The great American shopping mall has been on the endangered species list for several years now. But the retail apocalypse has yet to be realized. If malls are doomed, they don’t seem to notice.
It is true, however, that the way we shop is in the middle of a long disruption. When Amazon came along, it heralded the end of the in-person shopping experience and the trimmings that go along with it. In the mall’s case – food courts, arcades, playgrounds.
But the human touch has persevered. Brick and mortar stores have been making a coming back as people turn to bespoke shops to get personal guidance. Brands and retailers have to make it work both online and offline, embracing the advantages of each vehicle.
Fashion retailer Mitzi Guidry is swimming upstream of retail trends. After moving back to Lafayette from Los Angeles she converted her online vintage boutique into a brick and mortar shop in Downtown Lafayette, called Lilou. Lilou collects and curates vintage and unique pieces for re-sale. It also doubles as a micro-cafe, allowing Mitzi to throw food popups and create a culture and community around her business. Mitzi has worked in the fashion industry for close to two decades, and still maintains a full-time gig with Los Angeles Leathercraft, a clothing manufacturer based in L.A.
For malls and retailers competing with online giants, the shopping experience is everything. And that often includes food service. Food courts have always been around shopping malls but they’ve become more and more important and more and more exotic in what they serve.
Daniel Estaban owns and operates The Churro’s Boutique, a kiosk in the Acadiana Mall that whips up wildly creative and personalized portions of the Mexican street dessert. If you haven’t had a churro before, it’s like a fried doughnut piped out of a pastry bag. You often find them with cinnamon and chocolate dipping sauce. But at Churro’s Boutique you can get them stuffed with cream cheese and strawberries and even mounted into a cake.
Photos by Jill Lafleur. And here’s more lunchtime conversation about local commerce and global e-commerce.