By Dennis Kaiser

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Ask anyone in retail real estate how the sector is doing, and they’ll struggle to find the right answer. It’s not gasping for air, but it’s not completely sound either. We’re living in a world where e-commerce sales are exponentially growing, and retail property owners and managers are looking for ways to help generate traffic to their centers.

Some property owners seem to have discovered a resource that its helping generate a sharp increase in foot traffic, and also support sales growth. This novelty company, Shine Illumination, transforms retail locations into vibrant interactive destinations that go viral on social media. Some of the properties Shine CEO and Founder Bruce Brenon has transformed experience an average increase of 2,500 visitors per day, and between 20% to 50% increase in sales at the stores and restaurants. We sat down to understand more about his approach in our latest 3 CRE Q&A.

Q: How do you transform a retail center into a must-see destination?

We as humans crave experiences, and the dominance of social media in our lives pushes everyone else’s exciting adventures straight to our phones. We’re capitalizing both on this “craving” and the power of social media. The transformation of a retail center begins with an open mind and a good brainstorm. We walk the property with the owners and managers, listening to what they hope to accomplish or foot traffic challenges they have. We take into account what kids, couples and families want to experience. Our designs are then driven by the goal to encourage people to walk through the entire property to experience the installation, because that is what also gets them into the stores and restaurants.

Dana Point Harbor’s “Merry Kiss Me” installation during the winter holiday season has been wildly successful in driving between 1,000-4,000 visitors per night during an otherwise slow, cold season. People line up to take photos in front of it, so much that it went viral on Instagram last year, which was a major driver for the sharp increase in sales as reported by the surrounding shops and restaurants.

Q: What’s the most exciting projects you’re working on now?

We’re on a mission to top ourselves in 2019. We have created legacy holiday events for the Dana Point Harbor and Burnham Ward, FivePoint Communities, the Ritz Carlton and are focusing on several big installations for some of Donahue Schriber’s biggest properties. The key to success is that the experiences cannot remain static. We’re building more exciting interactive displays beyond the winter holidays, and turning other clients’ installations in full-blown annual festivals. We will keep a few crowd favorites at each property, but we’re designing new exciting experiences that honor the local area. People want these experiences to be their own – that’s what makes these installations so attractive year after year.

We’re also attending ISCS next month with Donahue Schriber, and have added unexpected elements to their trade show booth design. We’re looking forward to seeing people’s reactions to what we have in the works.

Q: What time of year is best to implement one of these major installations, outside of winter holidays?

A: Naturally, the winter season is the time people think to create community events, but if our goal is to drive foot traffic and sales, we can create anything anytime. One of the local hotels in Southern California wants to be the Valentine’s Day destination, so we’ve created an experience for couples that draws them in for the photo-op, and causes them to stay for the dinner. We’ve also designed a towering installation for Independence Day – think of the forest of lights outside of LACMA, but go a couple of steps further with fireworks for an Americana theme.