How a 66-year-old shopping center continues to reinvent itself to stay relevant

  • Serge Khalimsky

    Serge Khalimsky

 
By Serge Khalimsky
Westfield Old Orchard
Posted8/14/2022 1:00 AM

When we opened in Skokie back in 1956, Westfield Old Orchard looked a little different.

With only a few staple stores, we were just beginning what has become an incredible, long-lasting relationship with Chicagoland. After all, 66 years later, we look a lot different -- but with ongoing improvements, we are creating a truly iconic shopping destination that will include new retailers, additional dining and entertainment offerings and, most importantly, continuing to be active in the communities we serve.

 

These initiatives will continue to transform the traditional shopping experience by providing elevated shopper amenities and best in class retail while remaining a convenient community place to gather. Westfield Old Orchard continues to serve the everyday wants -- and needs -- of our community of shoppers and visitors, especially those in our backyard.

We're constantly listening and engaging with our customers to make sure that every time they visit Westfield Old Orchard, they're able to experience something fresh, fun and exciting, while also feeling a part of something bigger. Local vendor pop-ups, philanthropic events and evening activities constantly take place, featuring members of our community doing what they do best.

Essentially, we want Westfield Old Orchard to be not just a shopping mall, but a community space for our neighbors.

We work to develop spaces based around the most recent trends, while also maintaining -- and improving -- our flexible common spaces to ensure that they're evolving to elevate the shopper experiences. With a growing interest in health and wellness, as well as athleisure wear, for example, we've introduced new brands like SoulCycle, Peloton Studio and the recent Alo Yoga space opening Fall 2023.

We're doing the same with dining and entertainment experiences. Taking inspiration from downtown Chicago, we've introduced recognizable city brands and brought them to the North Shore. Westfield Old Orchard offers upscale and al fresco dining options, including Roka Akor, The Hampton Social, Bar Siena and The Capital Grille opening Winter 2023.

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Most importantly, we want to make sure that Westfield Old Orchard is an innate part of the community. We want to give suburbanites a space to engage with each other -- whether that's as friends, family or a part of a larger collective.

For instance, The Cube, a multipurpose space housed within a glass structure in the center of Westfield Old Orchard, has housed dynamic brands like Amazon, Samsung, Kia and Nespresso and currently houses It's Oksana -- an exclusive pop-up shop launched by Ukrainian native Oksana Ambroz-Trychta that carries handcrafted linen and hemp household products, clothing and accessories created by Ukrainian women artisans. A portion of the store's sales support the citizens of Ukraine as well as the Ukrainian military.

Seeing this pop-up come together was a highlight of my time at Westfield Old Orchard, not only because we were able to uplift a locally based entrepreneur, but because we saw an outpouring of support from our shoppers and visitors, who were seeking ways to engage with members of the Ukrainian community.

There's something beautiful about the fact that, when people think about Westfield Old Orchard, they all don't think of the same thing. For some people, Westfield Old Orchard is the place to shop at their favorite brands and stores, all in one location. For others, Westfield Old Orchard is a place to gather, with new bars and restaurants constantly opening. That's my ultimate goal -- for Westfield Old Orchard to be a place for every person, whatever it is they're looking for.

• Serge Khalimsky serves as the General Manager of Westfield Old Orchard.

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