As Kimco’s own Joy Medlock, general manager of our Suburban Square in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, stated, one of the best aspects of managing a shopping center is having the opportunity to interact with guests, boost foot traffic, and create loyal shoppers by hosting creative events. The positive response we receive from community members and tenants alike after throwing a successful event at one of our centers makes all the preparation worthwhile.

At our Wilton River Park Shopping Center in Wilton, Connecticut, we held several events and experimented with new marketing techniques in 2017 to better engage our tenants and the community at large. Let’s take a look back at a few of the highlights, and how they helped us achieve that goal.

Back in September, we hired a local resident, who is also a mom and very involved in the Wilton community, to coordinate our community events. Since she has kids in the Wilton school district, she’s more in touch with the local population, which proved to be a huge asset for us as we recently ramped up our marketing. We started off by increasing our social presence with Facebook and Instagram, and notifying all of our tenants so they could feel involved in our social and marketing efforts.

We then set out to grow our existing shopping center events, as well as add some new ones to the roster, and worked to not only promote these events to the local community through word-of-mouth, but through our new social media channels and the local press.

Our first Sip & Shop—a true ladies night out—took place in September. Local moms were invited to drop their kids off at Happy Hands Pottery Shop for pizza and pottery so they could enjoy discounts, specialty cocktails, and tastings while shopping. Kimco provided prosecco to all of the shops in the center and restaurants Cactus Rose and Craft 14 offered dining specials. Our retailers loved the traffic the event brought to the center on a Thursday night, and we received a ton of great feedback from our female shoppers.

For Halloween, we hosted our annual Halloween parade for the town, complete with trick or treating at all of the stores. Kimco provided the shops with candy, and coordinated a Halloween booth with games, an Instagram-selfie picture frame, and we gave out trick-or-treat-themed recyclable shopping bags with Kimco branding. Another big hit for the community, and our tenants.

In November, we extended our marketing efforts beyond the confines of our shopping center. We partnered with three local Bow Tie Cinemas to put out a pre-movie ad just before the holiday shopping rush. Tenants gave us gift ideas, and we compiled a 15-second video that played before the movies started, encouraging viewers to check out Wilton River Park and our tenants’ great holiday offerings.

To close the year, we partnered with Clementina Arts Foundation's Sprouting Spaces to provide 2,000 square feet of free space to an emerging artist at our center. Approximately 70 people attended the artist’s grand opening, including local politicians and a Boston art collector, and food, drink, and music were served.

Another way we’ve integrated Wilton River Park into the community is by sponsoring a local baseball team in the spring and purchasing a Kimco panel on the new fields of the local high school.

Once a month we try to do something to engage both our tenants and the community. On a regular basis, we help our tenants build good relationships with the local media and distribute surveys to see what our tenants want and need from Kimco, and to receive feedback on our marketing efforts. Ultimately, we are willing to do whatever we can to ensure our shops are prosperous.

Events not only benefit tenant relations, but they boost foot traffic to the center as well. So far, we’ve had a lot of success getting Wilton River Park’s name out there as a staple in the community. We recognize the center is a frequented destination for residents, and we want to be engaged with our customers. This year, we look forward to building off the momentum we started in 2017, and plan to host another exciting shopping event. Stay tuned for details and follow our social channels to stay in-the-know on what’s happening at Wilton River Park shopping center!