Milwaukee retail and civic leaders have spent the last several days in Las Vegas attending an event they hope will leave a mark on the city's retail scene.
The occasion was RECon Las Vegas – the annual gathering of the International Council of Shopping Centers.
Reporter Stacy Vogel Davis covers retail for the The Business Journal of Milwaukee, and is attending the convention to report on developments.
She says the ICSC could not only help the city and its suburbs, but individual businesses as well.
There are approximately 33,000 attendees at this year’s convention. Attendance is up for the first time since the beginning of the recession.
“A lot of people I have talked to said there is more energy at this year’s show,” Vogel Davis says. “Besides there being more people, there are more decisions being made. The retailers are ready to commit where in past years, they were very hesitant.”
Vogel Davis says it's a perfect time for a Milwaukee delegation to be attending such an event. Milwaukee has a lot of big changes happening on the retail scene: the Mayfair Collection is being created, Nordstrom is coming to Mayfair Mall, and outlet stores are looking to come here.
Bayshore Mall also has many additions coming in, including restaurants and new stores, some that will be brand new to Wisconsin. Additionally, Oconomowoc will be getting a super Wal-Mart and a Sam’s Club and Brookfield is going to be getting new shops in The Corners retail development.
“A lot of these retailers are saturated in Chicago and some of the really big cities, and Milwaukee is seen as the natural next step,” Vogel Davis says. “Once they are full in Chicago, they may want to expand to Milwaukee.”
But why are there new businesses coming to Milwaukee instead of focusing on internet sales? Vogel Davis says it is because the region is focusing on building the “relationship business.” People want to see who they are buying from and want to physically pick out the item they are purchasing.