High street retail encourages local entrepreneurs.
You’ll find much more participation of local businesses, innovative businesses which are actually run by people who are living in that neighbourhood or in that city rather than just having all shopping belonging to people who can only be conglomerates or chains or big corporations as happens in malls.
A mall typically would not be able to encourage the small entrepreneur. A place is special because of local foods, the local chocolates or art. These creative entrepreneurs have their own niche and create the distinct character of the city. They would never be found in malls because the big conglomerates tend to crowd out the smaller players. Local entrepreneurs are not able to function in the whole system of formal mall where the overheads are high, maintenance costs are high and commitment costs are insisted upon by the mall owners.
So malls kill city entrepreneurial life !
Commercial activity of shopping, retail, cafes allows small entrepreneurs to come up with innovative things, pioneering ideas and also gives the life to the street to make the whole walk more interesting and more interactive. High street provides far more options, nuances, formats & variations for ownership where it allows entrepreneurs to flourish so rentals don’t become a strain. It really gives that colour to the street . One can appreciate what is local & special about the city. We can only see large chains and global brands in malls.*
The success of Powai is due to small entrepreneurs. We actually encouraged small entrepreneurs to come in. In the early 1990’s ,we actually went to a newspaper vendor and gave him a small hole in the wall to help in distributing the newspapers and magazines. We even sourced the market for small restaurant owners and small vegetable vendor. With galleria, we created an entire pedestrian mall, which had small shops which could get people from the local community to come in and be entrepreneurs. In the initial days we did even encouraged the hawker to come in and at a selected spot in a supervised way to come and work within the project and build up his business so that he could ultimately even lease a shop and some of them have done that today. The newspaper guy is still there in galleria.
Moreover , I have to reemphasize that beyond a certain point, the current trend of compound wall adorned with beautiful flowers does nothing to the streets beyond adding some visual cleanliness and manicure. Instead ,we should be creating places so local entrepreneurs thrive.
Note: * Even the global brands, the chains, even the luxury brands whether it’s a Louis Vuitton or a Gucci prefer the high street to the mall. They are in malls because of the inadequate streets, restrictive codes ; inadequate facilities and lack of mass transport. Globally ,the most successful stores of the biggest luxury brands are in high street.