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Shoppers make their way through Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton, Calif. (Anda Chu/Staff archives)

Online shopping is becoming increasingly popular. Why shop at shopping centers and malls, if purchases can be made online at a lower cost?

Why pay money for gasoline and deal with the hassle of parking and crowds if purchases can be made in the comfort of home through the Internet? Pay an annual fee and shipping is free.

If Americans continue to shop and buy online, what's the future of malls? Will malls continue with their role of providing an outlet to make purchases plus providing a safe location for families to shop and socialize? What's the future of malls, if consumers check prices in stores and then make purchases online?

Big-box retailers and small business cannot compete with cost for online sales. If malls are to be relevant in the 21st century, they need to reinvent themselves.

Malls can follow the example of Pier 39 in San Francisco by providing a stage location for juggling acts, acrobatics and magicians.

Expand this entertainment by providing a venue for opera, ballet, hip hop dancers, health and grooming, and motivational speakers.

Many malls, including Town and Country Village in Palo Alto provide a summer concert series with headline bands. Malls also provide monthly kids clubs with entertainment that is appropriate for children ages two to six.


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Malls can provide a comfortable location for shoppers to rest, people watch and socialize. Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton and the Westfield Mall in San Francisco provide comfortable leather couches and leather chairs, center court. Blackhawk Plaza in Danville provides a walking trail around a pond with ducks, food for the ducks and a Jungle Gym for young children.

Mall marketing managers can provide discount coupons encouraging shoppers to spend their money in stores.

Malls can be more than shopping in chains or big-box stores. Malls need to reinvent themselves by being a safe and friendly environment to socialize and expand knowledge.

Marketing managers need to prove to the consumer that retailers can offer more services and benefits than shopping online. The shopping experience at malls can be family friendly, safe and fun.

Stan Heimowitz is the founder of Celebrity Gems Entertainment, an entertainment agency based in Castro Valley.