Our Stories

Tune In: Key Ingredients to Retail Success


In March 2023, Urban Land Institute (ULI) hosted a live discussion about brick-and-mortar retail that was refreshingly upbeat as well as informative. Moderated by Andrew Nelson of Nelson Economics, “Thriving Retail Today” was ULI’s free webinar programmed as part of the launch of its new research report, “Successful Retail: How 14 Shopping Centers Are Thriving Today.”

Joining the discussion was EDENS’ Jodie W. McLean, with Cathy Sloss Jones of Sloss Real Estate Company and Gavin Thomas of Hendricks Commercial Properties. All three executives were also interviewed for ULI’s report that features case studies of EDENS’ Moores Mill (Atlanta) and Woburn Village (Boston) alongside Bottleworks District in Indianapolis (Hendricks) and Pepper Place in Birmingham (Sloss).

“What we learned during COVID was how desperate people were to connect with other human beings,” says Jodie McLean. “I’m not here to tell you that it’s just about brick and mortar, because that’s not true…It’s about creating places where community can come together on a routine basis. We think about multiple trips and increasing dwell time, but what we also find is that prosperity happens not only economically, but socially and culturally.”

Retail really serves as a community gathering space. What we focus on more than anything is how can we think about a community and connect with its most engaged citizens.

Jodie W. McLean CEO, EDENS

The biggest takeaway in both the report and the discussion? There is no single blueprint for success that’s shared by all high-performing centers, though location and convenience does matter. Whether in an urban or suburban market, panelists all agreed that the common denominator was a distinct brand identity—through inclusive placemaking and thoughtful merchandizing—but also authentic community engagement cultivated by signature events and site-specific activations.

Watch “Thriving Retail Today.”
Read the “Successful Retail” report.