Veni, Vidi, Empti in Las Vegas By Christopher G. Axelrod August 3, 2014 at 8:04 pm “I came, I saw, I purchased in Las Vegas.” That’s increasingly true as additional shopping opportunities are added to the Las Vegas tourist experience. Mirroring the concepts of its larger production shows, Las Vegas strives to have its shopping experience exceed what tourists can experience in their own home retail community. “Only in Las Vegas” is the goal. Shopping must be exemplary in both what is offered for sale and the aesthetics of the shopping environment. The two are related: consumers think that the more unique and upscale the design of a mall, the higher the quality of the retailers in the mall. This alignment is evident in cavernous themed mazes like Caesars Forum Shops, The Venetian’s Canal Shoppes (offering classic gondoliers and hourly themed entertainment), and the Shops at Crystals adjoining the Aria. All are well-branded marvels designed to enhance the sensation of joyful exploration and spending, though the Canal Shoppes experience is marred by poor directional signage, with shoppers often losing their way. Shopping opportunities in Las Vegas are now almost endless. The City of Las Vegas has a pair of Premium Outlet Malls at its north and south ends, where familiar brands and occasional values can be discovered. The immense Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood provide hours of shopping experience, enhanced with bars, quality affordable live shows at the Saxe Theater, and even the opportunity to witness tattoos being applied almost everywhere (anatomically speaking) by master artisans. Imagine getting inked while shoppers licking ice cream cones watch through a window! All of the larger strip casinos offer their blend of retailers to augment the themes and persona of their venues. Be it shopping for a new Ferrari at The Wynn or the novelty shops in the basement of Bally’s, the range is vast. Retail shopping was never a key design component of the newer and smaller downtown casinos nor at the boutique casinos on the strip such as the newly renovated Cromwell. It is clearly a case of prioritizing attraction versus the related costs of square footage and sustaining potential gaming traffic. Bally’s new entrance is an example of the mindset of the strip casinos now seeking to bring their brands closer to the street to lure in more pedestrians. Bally’s will be opening a World Bizarre global-themed shopping concept as their new main entrance later this fall. Street traffic clearly no longer wants elongated and dramatic themed entrances to the grand palaces of Las Vegas. Consumers want it here and now. Caesars’ new Linq district has proven to be a successful destination design, leading diners and shoppers to the very base of the impressive High Roller Ferris wheel. The Linq offers new and unique retail, including family favorites such as the interactive Polaroid store and the Candy/Cupcake shop. MGM’s New York, New York is following suit with a new park-like shopping promenade. They very recently opened a majestic multi-storied Hershey’s chocolate paradise to rival the always popular M & M Mars independent store located across the street. The new SLS casino, opening on August 23rd, features new retailers to the City like the popular LA casual clothier Fred Segal, among my personal favorites, debuting with new designer lines aimed at the younger hipster demographics of the SLS brand. Given developer SBE’S nearly $500 million investment, I understand the emphasis on top retailers (higher rents), but the senses and wallets of the young, genuine hipster embrace retro and authentic vintage stores. Those can be found only on Main Street. The SLS is blocks away from the 18B Arts District; it would be better defined if it could excite younger consumers by surprising them with some authentic locally-owned retro and vintage retailers. So when is enough, enough? The answer: never. From meeting the basic needs of travelers to the ultimate in fashion accessories, Las Vegas has something for everyone and every budget. Shopping is designed to be an emotionally satisfying and socially interactive experience. Be it an impulse purchase or the thrill of the pursuit, there is the guarantee of acquiring and winning on your terms. Las Vegas’ investment in a vast square footage of shopping offers far more serenity than the intense gaming areas, keeping the patron on premise to spend further. Like the emotional satisfaction of food and beverage, there are never enough shopping options for addicted shoppers. Just as with favorite restaurants, customers recall and revisit their favorite stores on each trip. That is another added value and a vital dimension to the tourism experience, one that online shopping can never achieve. Because of this successful relationship between shopping, dining, clubs, shows, and gaming, club memberships and promotions can engage the consumer like never before. Consumers always savor a bargain, or savings that validate their spending. We are a species of emotional consumption; a few incentive points can lock in brand loyalty and repeat business. The opportunities have never been greater for savvy marketers. If Las Vegas fully understands the value of the tourism shopping experience, then we will continue to have it “in the bag” as a growing global destination.