At a time when malls and downtowns across the country are facing hundreds of store closings, property owners are looking to fill their spaces with more diverse tenants, everything from urgent-care centers to climbing gyms. Increasingly, experiential retail or entertainment concepts are filling up square footage vacated by department stores and have the added bonus of being immune to e-commerce.
One example of this approach is KidZania, an experiential learning center that teaches children ages 4 to 14 through role-playing. With the first US location set to open in Dallas next year and Chicago in 2019, the company is seeking to expand in across the country.
Each KidZania is a highly detailed world of let's pretend set in a mini-city (complete with buildings, paved roads, and even vehicles) that allows children to role-play in more than 100 occupations and professions, such as doctor, reporter or truck driver. While performing tasks children earn KidZos (KidZania's currency) and the money is kept in the KidZania bank for children to spend at the gift shop and on KidZania's activities. To make the experience as authentic as possible, companies sponsor local landmarks and businesses. Kids may fly a British Airways plane, for example, or operate an H&M store.