The renaissance of localized merchants commenced more than thirty years ago with the dawn of the community farmer’s market. After a slow progression over the years, the concept of locally owned and controlled independent retailers is booming. These commercial entities are usually small in size and scope, generally having only a handful of locations in a specific region, such as a city or suburb.
These independent businesses generally come to life by providing a new twist in existing retail categories like fashion or food and are nurtured in more bohemian neighborhoods among young entrepreneurs. An example is Civil Coffee, which was started by two brothers in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles. Their overwhelming success is based on the creation of more unique coffee concoctions with distinctive local flavor served in an eclectically designed space.
The rapid growth in localization is being driven by Millennials and Gen Z that find local concepts like Civil Coffee have distinct personalities they can relate to, are culturally aware and responsible, sustainable, and are more community centric. Nearly 70% of consumers under the age of thirty that live in the city or mature and densely populated suburbs (where localized merchants are usually concentrated) claim they patronize local retailers.
The localization retail trend has caught the attention of shopping center developers and REITS, both small and large, and are recruiting local merchants as part of their tenant mix. A new retail development located just outside of Los Angeles (The Shops at Sportsman Lodge) has focused on a local tenant mix and includes Civil Coffee as well as a new upscale market called Erewhon, its seventh location in the LA area.
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