Why the revamped Chadstone Shopping Centre fails to impress.

I am very familiar with the Chadstone Shopping Centre because it is the closest mall to my home. If I had my wish, however, it would be replaced by the Westfield one from Doncaster.

Chadstone has just had a multi-million dollar make-over. There are shops galore and the expensive brands have all been enticed there. But what is glaringly disappointing is that there are very few nice places to eat in the centre. Visit Westfield at Doncaster and you will sit in comfort and enjoy better quality dining in Thai, Indian, Italian restaurants, just to name a few. There is a designated eating section with muted lighting and a charming ambience.

By contrast, Chadstone provides the usual suspects, like Kebab shops, focaccia places and some Chinese counters which can be found in a couple of areas. One of these is a thoroughfare downstairs, in which shoppers and diners struggle to get through and get in one another’s way.

Where there is a “Food Hall” you will find McDonalds and other fast food outlets. Very little comfort is provided. It’s noisy and unpleasant and somehow clashes with the Chadstone pretension of being exclusive. You can slurp on a slurpie and then hang around Louis Vuitton, I guess. Yeah right…

This morning I phoned management at the Shopping Centre and had to try five times before finally getting through to a member of staff who told me that there are no plans for improving the facilities. So after all those millions to entice vendors, there was nothing left in the kitty for shoppers’ comfort.

Now that is very disappointing because this is a failure of the revamped Chadstone Shopping Centre. Its management doesn’t seem to realise that if you provide creature comforts for shoppers you will entice them to remain in your centre longer. And the longer they stay, the more likely they are to spend.

And why oh why is it impossible to enter the Woolworths Supermarket from inside the mall? Why does one have to go outside in all weather to go back inside? How silly is that? Now that is a failure of design!

We spent many hours in a wonderful mall in Texas some years ago. It was The Galleria in Dallas. We had coffee and then shopped. We had lunch and then shopped. We watched the ice skating on the ice skating rink and then had afternoon tea and then shopped some more.

Let’s face it, malls have become substitutes for the village square of old. People meet there and socialise and shop. It’s an outing.

Not long ago I had to inform the management at Chadstone that their automatic flush toilets were not working and the restrooms were a health hazard. Since then the automatic flushers have been replaced by workable button flushers. Most people would know how to flush a loo the reliable way.

I would love to go to Chadstone and not have to leave it to find a decent place to eat. I strongly urge the management at the Gandel Corporation to take a good look at the master of malls design, Westfield, and learn something.

It’s not good enough to be the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere which is Chadstone’s mantra at the moment. One should also make an effort to be the best service provider cause if shoppers ain’t happy then vendors ain’t happy either.

It pays to makes shoppers feel good.

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