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Arrowhead Ranch Plaza in Glendale helps tenants succeed

Monday, August 6, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rhette Baughman
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Arrowhead Ranch Plaza is helping its small businesses market themselves to ensure the success of the dining, shopping and office complex.

Two years ago, a quarter of the spaces in the plaza at 59th Avenue and Union Hills Drive, a mile south of Loop 101, were vacant. Small shops were going out of business and new tenants weren't moving in, plaza owner Rick Heinz said.

Now, Arrowhead Ranch Plaza has just two vacancies. The plaza is home to about eight restaurants, some medical offices and other services. A close-to-capacity shopping center means more customers, and some once-struggling shops are back on their feet, Heinz said.

He attributes the turn-around to more than a slowly improving economy. In 2010, he hired Alesha Nicole Corey, owner of Above & Beyond Communication. She markets the complex -- its website and events such as car shows, farmers markets and blood drives -- and helps business owners with their marketing efforts.

Corey said shopping complexes don't typically have a dedicated marketing team, and for those that do, the services usually aren't extended to businesses within the complexes.

Corey said many of the Arrowhead Ranch Plaza shops were relying on fliers and coupon packs mailed to nearby homes. That works for some, she said, but many potential patrons don't respond to ads in the mail.

She's helped small-business owners set up websites and social media accounts.

"People are checking their e-mails now and Facebook for specials and deals," she said.

Corey encourages shops to participate in the car shows and other events she sets up at the plaza. Some shop owners hand out samples to lure customers in. Others promote dining specials or hand out coupons.

Eva Zasimovich, owner of Sweets Unlimited, took over the bakery two years ago. The previous owner focused on wedding cakes ordered in advance, so there was little walk-in business, she said.

Now, Zasimovich sells breakfast, candy and popcorn and specializes in birthday cakes, which she said have become popular with her customers.

The events Corey books at the plaza have increased foot traffic around the shop, Zasimovich said.

She also sold Groupons, which probably bought in about 1,200 new patrons, she said. She also has a website that many customers find through searching for Glendale bakeries.

"Collectively, that all works," she said. "We have probably quadrupled (sales)."

Rick Murray, CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association, said one of the most important things small businesses must do is market their companies and attract customers.

In many cases, owners overestimate their abilities to market successfully, and others end up neglecting it altogether, Murray said. "You have somebody who ends up trying to be the expert in every area," he said. "They're doing the best they can with what they have."

Stabilizing Arrowhead Ranch Plaza has also come through being picky about new tenants, Heinz said.

Every complex has its own forte, Heinz said, and for Arrowhead Ranch Plaza, restaurants and medical services have been most successful. Nearby businesses and neighborhoods provide lunch and dinner patrons, and medical businesses do well with Arrowhead Hospital about a mile away.

Murray said more and more retail-center operators are raising their standards and bringing in tenants with proven success, or at least strong business plans.

One business closing can impact the success of an entire complex and the surrounding establishments, he said.

"It's still a delicate economy,'' he said.

Written by by Allie Seligman for The Arizona Republic
Source: Arizona Republic

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