LEGO to Open Experiential Retail Space at West Edmonton Mall this Fall

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Danish toy brand LEGO is in the midst of a continuing global expansion in 2020 with plans to open over 150 experiential stores internationally. In Canada, LEGO will be opening a new flagship experience store in West Edmonton Mall in November. This will be the eleventh standalone Canadian store and the second location for Edmonton. In Spring 2013, a LEGO Store opened in south Edmonton at Southgate Centre to much fanfare. The Southgate Centre LEGO store grand opening is commemorated with a giant LEGO Mural shoppers assisted in building.

The West Edmonton Mall LEGO store will be located in Phase IV and will span more than 6,500 square feet on one level. The space that the LEGO store will occupy has been reinvented throughout the mall’s history.

The LEGO Store will be taking over the open concept pop up space. Over the years this space has been used a variety of temporary events including the World Vision One Life Experience, Segway Course and Giant Colon Tour sponsored by the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada. Most recently this space converted into the ‘micro-mall’ Concept ‘RAAS’ (Retail as a Service) which shuttered December 31, 2018.

LEGO West Edmonton Mall Store Design

Currently under construction, the LEGO West Edmonton Mall store will be designed with a similar concept to the The LEGO Store at the Mall of America which was remodeled in December 2010. The Mall of America retail space is located in a high traffic atrium in front of the south entrance to the Nickelodeon Universe Amusement Park. The store features an open air roof with eight larger-than-life models including a LEGO robot over 34 feet tall, helicopter, knights and dragon that all tower over the store. There is a giant “Pick & Build Wall” with 180 different LEGO elements to build your own LEGO creation. There is the “Build a Mini” LEGO figure Tower which features a variety of pieces to customize your minifigure. The centre of the store is called the “Living Room” which is an interactive play area that gives shoppers a chance to get “hands-on, minds-on” with LEGO products. The perimeter of the store is the “Brand Ribbon” which features the “Digital Box” where customers can scan any boxed LEGO set and see a 3D digital model, fully built LEGO models and merchandises the full selection of LEGO products and branded merchandise including DUPLO sets, themes such as NINJAGO, Friends and CITY and popular licensed items such as LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Disney Princess, and LEGO Super Heroes.

The West Edmonton Mall Lego Store will feature all of the same merchandising concepts and a similar footprint to the Mall of America store. The West Edmonton Mall store will occupy the centre space of Phase IV with an open air concept. The store will feature a large entrance facing the Deep Sea Adventure Lake along with a secondary entrance facing Sunrise Records. The steel girder frame soars over two stories and has a tiled design front that is reminiscent of the distinctive LEGO pieces. This frame will serve as the structure for the life sized LEGO models. There is also a suspended model from the ceiling which is a red biplane. The perimeter of the store will be covered with a similar white title. There is prominent life sized LEGO logo signage in the centre of the store. As this store will attract a high volume of shoppers, the flooring used will be the Key Resin Terrazzo Epoxy product which has been used in a variety of LEGO Canada stores. With the high foot traffic, this flooring choice will be easy to clean and maintain. All of these aspects are identical to the Mall of America store excluding the secondary entrance as the Mall of America store only has one entrance and the main design colour is yellow. Both malls are owned and operated by Triple Five.

CLICK IMAGE FOR INTERACTIVE WEST EDMONTON MALL MAP
WEST EDMONTON MALL FLOOR PLAN IN 1986

Phase IV History

In 1985, as part of the Phase III expansion, both the lower and upper levels of this area were occupied by the Vancouver-based Woodward’s Department Store. The Woodward’s store which included a Food Floor (full service grocery store) was over 150,000 square feet. In late 1992, the entire Woodward’s chain filed for bankruptcy owing over $65 million dollars to its creditors. In 1993, the entire chain was acquired by the Hudson’s Bay Company which converted these former Woodward’s locations to either The Bay or Zellers locations. The Phase III store was converted into a Hudson’s Bay store. For four years (1993 to 1997) The Bay operated two department stores in West Edmonton Mall. The original Phase I store location anchoring the east end of the mall and the converted Woodward’s store in Phase III on the west end of the mall. By late 1997, Hudson’s Bay made a decision to close the Phase III store. West Edmonton Mall decided to repurpose this anchor space into their Phase IV concept. Construction started on March 31, 1998 and was completed by the end the year. The old Woodward’s / The Bay space was converted into 2 levels of inline stores. Grand opening stores included a 2 story HMV Music Store, on the main level a PJ’s Pet Centres, Chapters Bookstore, Playdium Entertainment Complex and on the second level Eddie Bauer and Wild West Shooting Centre. Added above the former Woodward’s / The Bay space was the Famous Players SilverCity / IMAX 3D Theatre with access from the second level. The centre space of Phase IV featured the HMV Performance Stage along with an open concept pop up space facing the Deep Sea Adventure Lake.

Phase IV Today

The Lego Store will be nestled among an eclectic mix of retailers. Almost all of the original Phase IV retailers have changed with the exception of the Chapters Bookstore which has been rebranded under their Indigo banner with an expansion in 2015 adding an Indigo Kids and American Girl experiential store-in-store boutique and the Wild West Shooting Centre. The HMV store has been replaced with Sunrise Records and the stage is now known as the Phase IV Stage, the Playdium Entertainment Complex and PJ Pet’s has been replaced with Aurora Cannabis. The second level retailers have also changed, the Eddie Bauer store has relocated to Phase I and the space was replaced with Canada’s first Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant and the north side was redeveloped for Simons Department Store with 2 exterior entrances facing Phase IV. Beside the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant is the Stingray radio station group with the on-air studios of 840 CFCW, K-97 Classic Rock and the breeze 96.3. The on-air studios opened in 2005 by Newcap Alberta which was acquired by Stingray in 2018. Even the Famous Players SilverCity / IMAX 3D Theatre has been rebranded as the Scotiabank Theatre Edmonton after the acquisition by Cineplex. The majority of the original theatre branding and fixtures including the fire breathing dragon have been removed over the years. This mix of retailers will complement the Lego Store especially the Indigo Kids and American Girl store-in-store boutique. Both stores will attract children and their parents to Phase IV.

Analysis

The addition of the Lego Store to West Edmonton Mall will help the mall weather the retail storm of 2020. Although the LEGO store is a retail store, it will become another attraction at West Edmonton Mall. The life sized LEGO models will draw shoppers from both the main and second levels of the mall towards Phase IV to snap photos and enter the store. These photos will add towards user generated marketing content once posted on social media channels. Today’s shoppers are drawn towards experiential components such as play areas which the LEGO store will offer. Children will be able to play while the parents shop. LEGO also plays into an educational aspect, as parents view LEGO as more of a learning toy compared with electronic toys. Overall the LEGO store at West Edmonton Mall is a great fit and will help the mall continue to reinforce its place as leader in the realm of ‘retailtainment’.

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