What’s ahead for shopping in Wichita? Expect more focus on the entertainment aspect

Retailers that focus on doing one thing well and retail centers that offer something besides shopping will likely play a bigger role in Wichita. That’s the view of real estate agents and others who pay attention to retail trends.

“Retail has changed so much with Amazon,” Brad Saville, president of Landmark Commercial Real Estate, said, referring to the impact of online shopping. “Now there’s so much more emphasis put on the entertainment aspect, whether it be a sports complex, entertainment venture or something like that.”

It’s already happened in Wichita at Greenwich Place, the retail and hotel complex at K-96 and Greenwich that’s anchored by the Sports Forum, a $14 million facility with trampoline park, indoor soccer field, volleyball courts and more.

Greenwich Place is considered one of the hottest commercial developments in the city, and it’s likely to become even more so thanks to a $22 million upgrade of the nearby Stryker soccer complex. When finished, the city believes it can attract up to 150,000 visitors a year to youth sporting events.

“The youth competitive sports has changed so much from when we grew up,” Saville said. “Now everybody’s making the weekend a family sports vacation. That’s going to drive hotel and restaurant sales because there’s so much more of that going on in the Midwest.”

The desire by shoppers to stretch their dollar can also be seen in Greenwich Place, where most of the stores — including Stein Mart, DWS and Bed Bath & Beyond — are known for their discount or competitive pricing.

Just as Stryker and the Sports Forum cater to active youngsters, a new establishment opening at 13th and Greenwich this year targets active adults: Chicken N Pickle is a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, local craft beer, pickleball courts and lawn games.

Dorothy Harpool, a lecturer in Wichita State University’s marketing department, expects to see more segmentation and specialization in the retail field.

“I think smaller stores that are very product specific, there are opportunities there” selling items “that people want to talk to somebody about, want to touch, taste, whatever,” Harpool said. “I think stores are getting away from being massive, because (shopping in them) is such a big hassle.”

Big or small, Harpool said, successful retailers will probably be those that embrace online and in-person sales. “They are recognizing that the Internet is going to be around forever and selling online is certainly a viable option, but there’s still a need, right now, for that brick and mortar. Not every consumer is going to want to buy every single item on line.”

Another retail principle Harpool believes in – “people shop where they live and work” – is playing out on WSU’s campus. The school expects to attract national and local retailers to Braeburn Square, a 20-acre development on school’s new Innovation Campus. A Starbucks has opened there and a 123-room hotel by Westin has also been announced for the property.

Some other possible retail developments to look for in Wichita in 2018:

▪ What Stephanie Wise of John T. Arnold Associates calls the “obvious places” will continue to be hot spots for new stores, restaurants and more. That’s anything north of 21st Street on the far east side and property north of New Market Square on the west side. But also, Wise noted, College Hill, downtown Wichita and Delano are attractive to retailers wanting to locate in areas with an older, urban feel.

▪ As highway construction finishes on Kellogg at Webb, that intersection seems like prime ground for retail, restaurant and hotel development.

▪ Similarly, the completion of work on ramps connect I-235 and Kellogg could signal the redevelopment of commercially zoned properties just to the west.

▪ Further development of the booming dining scene that’s sprung up at Maple and Ridge in just a few short years, although the remaining available property is tight.