Glendale California Retail Hub Vang

Glendale California Retail Hub Pulls in Merchants, Customers

by Sarah Daniels

Less than 10 miles north of Downtown Los Angeles is Glendale, Calif., a city with nearly 200,000 residents and an enviable location if you’re a retailer.

“Within a 10-mile radius, we have access to more than 2.5 million people,” says Soua Vang, deputy director of economic development for the City of Glendale. “We are strategically located within the LA marketplace, just minutes away from some of Southern California’s most popular destinations.”

If you’re a visitor, those popular destinations may include the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Walk of Fame or Universal Studios. If you work or reside in the LA area, those attractions include Dodger Stadium, Disneyland, Arena and SoFi Stadium, to name just a few.

Regardless of whether you live, work or play in the area, Glendale has become synonymous with shopping thanks to its two powerhouse retail destinations: Brookfield’s Glendale Galleria and Caruso’s The Americana at Brand.

“Glendale is unique in that we benefit from two strong owner/operators,” Vang says. “Retailers continue to choose Glendale as their very first location because of strong market fundamentals and our competitive advantage.”

Premiere Retail

Apple, Disney, Baskin-Robbins, Panda Express and Massis Kabob all debuted their first brick-and-mortar locations in Glendale. Amazon added itself to that list in 2022 when it opened Amazon Style, its first physical fashion store, at The Americana at Brand.

Vang notes the two regional shopping centers pull in some of the world’s most notable retailers, including Gucci, Amazon Style, Tiffany & Co. and Tesla, in addition to traditional mall staples. She believes the city’s proximity to tourist destinations and LA’s major media corridor force the retail offerings to remain fresh, unique as well as upscale and accessible.

“There’s a lot of talent nearby, and California is the number-one state in terms of innovation,” she says. “For businesses that maintain a presence and continue to thrive here, there’s a lot of market access.”

Naturally, part of attracting a diverse array of retailers involves providing a diverse array of shop space. The Galleria and The Americana at Brand are two of those offerings, but many more exist within the city limits —bringing new creative retail and food and beverage options to fruition.

“We have a very low retail vacancy rate of 2.4 percent,” Vang says. “We always strive for a healthy mix of boutiques and global brands, and we have a desire to further enrich the arts, culture and entertainment experiences in Glendale. We have a strong appetite for creative placemaking.”

In that vein, Glendale is reimagining public spaces and creating more pedestrian-friendly urban centers. The city is planning to convert Artsakh Avenue, located in the heart of Glendale’s Arts & Entertainment District, into a one-way walkable street that provides shaded areas, outdoor seating, performance spaces and public art. Vang notes construction is anticipated to commence in late 2024.

Artsakh Avenue has been a big focus for the city as of late. The city council launched Artsakh Creative, a pilot retail accelerator program for pop-up concepts to temporarily inhabit city-owned commercial space in December 2020. The goal was to turn this avenue into the “heart of the district.”

“We’re doing our part to encourage new retail growth in the city,” Vang says. “We want to do what we can for young brands and entrepreneurs looking to test out the program with limited expense. The tenants don’t pay rent for the first six months, and the hope is they may want to stay in that space longer or find another permanent location.”

The two latest tenants to move in were Union Jack’s Tea and Paperback Brewery Co., who have existing Glendale locations and will use the Artsakh locations to promote themselves to a new market of consumers.

A very successful comedy club, The Glendale Room, was one of the first Artsakh tenants. The Glendale Room applied in the second round through a competitive process and was selected to continue in its Artsakh location. It was also recently featured on USA Today’s list of the 10 best open mic spots in Los Angeles.

City Services

Beyond providing space and infrastructure, Glendale is doing what it can to help current and prospective businesses thrive. In legislation-heavy places like California, this includes assistance with labor laws. Glendale sponsors a free human resources (HR) hotline in partnership with the California Employers Association to provide guidance and advice to all Glendale employers on anything HR-related.

“Small mom and pops don’t necessarily have the manpower or capacity to get up to speed with labor law changes,” Vang adds. “The hotline offers insight on HR compliance, current labor laws and employee handbook policies, all free of charge to all businesses.”

Glendale also offers a business concierge team that provides one-on-one assistance as owners and developers navigate the permitting process. Vang notes the city prides itself on bringing its divisions together quickly to get permits approved.

“We think like a business,” she says. “If companies and businesses aren’t open, we aren’t making any money.”

The concierge team can facilitate site tours, organize property visits and arrange meetings with landlords. An online permit portal also makes it easy to upload documents or check the status of any pending approvals.

The expedited process seems to be working. Glendale has recently welcomed Copa Vida, Golden Goose footwear, Dodgers Clubhouse sporting apparel and a Gucci store. The economic development team will continue its work on Artsakh Avenue and throughout the city as it looks to attract more experiential retail that will resonate with its residents, workers and visitors.

“We want destination amenities that will appeal to everyone,” Vang says. “Glendale is certainly a Southern California retail hub, and we’re ready to see and receive this next round of innovative ideas.”

— By Nellie Day This post is posted as part of Shopping Center Business’ Retail Insight series. Click here to subscribe to the Retail Insight newsletter, a four-part newsletter series, followed by video interviews delivered to your inbox in May/June.

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