The alarming trend of retail closures has both retail landlords and developers searching for answers and struggling to effectively adapt. The big-box chain stores that were retail anchors 10 to 20 years ago are shutting their doors and leaving a vast network of oversized vacant spaces. These spaces are typically misaligned with the more recent retail trends: small-format shops, transient retailers, and multi-channel retail. By creating a framework to support moveable, modular retail shops, the Mod Market concept can adapt to the shifting retail landscape and support the needs of rising small businesses.
While some retail landlords have responded to these shifts by tearing down large portions of their developments and redeveloping their unused land in new ways, the demolition alone of the many vacant big-box spaces creates unnecessary waste and requires the use of new raw materials for the subsequent ground-up construction.
Beginning with a vacant, in-line big-box retail space, the Mod Market concept proposes providing an infrastructure designed to house purpose-built modular retail spaces. Maintaining the preexisting structure of the retail space, openings are created in the front and rear façades. A gravity roller conveyor system raises up the floor system to meet the height of a typical flatbed truck. Retail modules are designed to meet the unique needs of each retailer and constructed off-site to reduce the typical tenant improvement timeline. Flatbed trucks deliver the retail modules to the site, inserting them into the space through large, roll-up garage doors lining the rear loading zone. Modular walkway components can be moved around to adapt to a variety of store configurations. A 35-foot typical column grid accommodates four 8-foot-4-inch-by-40-foot modules, allowing for a variety of store sizes, filling one to four modules each. Along the column grid, a 20-inch space between modules provides room for utility lines and connections to the modules. The restrooms, storage areas, ramps, and front and side walkways are fixed elements that remain in place throughout the conversion to new modular shops.
The extended tenant improvement timelines and associated costs of typical retail models create limitations for responding to the recent retail trends toward short-term and small-format retailers. Considering these challenges, the Mod Market concept minimizes on-site build-out time and provides flexibility to retailers. Modular retail design provides retailers the ability to easily relocate their stores from one site to another, benefiting from increased exposure to new customers and markets while eliminating the need to repeat the long and expensive tenant improvement process.
The front façade of the Mod Market welcomes visitors from the front sidewalk through large, folding glass garage doors. Stepped seating and an integrated ramp move customers into the space and up to the raised modular shops, framing gathering zones and providing spaces for special events. Fixed, shared retail storage areas and gender-neutral restrooms serve retailers and their customers throughout the changing of module retail shops. As store owners see opportunities for increased exposure in new locations, the retail modules can be removed from one Mod Market structure and relocated to another, similarly designed infrastructure, creating potential growth opportunities for their businesses without needing to repeat the long and expensive tenant improvement process.
In a fast-paced retail world, small-format and short-term pop-up shops reach a new demographic of customers and fill a gap between traditional retailers and online stores. Pop-up shops create a unique buzz of excitement amongst a permanent retail community, often building on a preexisting online presence. Short-term leases allow tenants to gauge the interest of their customers and test locations, seasons and marketing strategies. Brands of varying scales and budgets can catapult their businesses without committing to a long-term lease and tenant improvement investment of traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores.