Traditional malls in the U.S. are in decline, but advertising exec turned developer José de Jesús Legaspi has revitalized 10 failing properties by converting them into Hispanic cultural centers–leading to a 30% increase in income and foot traffic. “We create one-stop shopping for the entire Hispanic family: grocery stores, dental care, medical care, immunization, clothes, entertainment, banking, and the DMV,” he says.
In 2013, the company filled nearly 240,000 square feet of empty retail in an Atlanta mall–attracting Planet Fitness, Ross, Shopper’s World, and a slew of local merchants. Hispanic households buy 20% more shoes and clothing than non-Hispanic ones, Legaspi says, so the mall’s store mix is geared accordingly. Boots, quinceañera shops, and country-western stores are popular. Easter, Christmas, the Day of the Virgin of Guadelupe, and other holidays are celebrated there. Bishops and priests lead services, including the Passion of the Christ, and Sunday sales events start after 3 p.m. so as not to conflict with Mass.
Because Hispanic families often shop as a unit, Legaspi says, “The malls have to have something for five generations of family.” Sometimes that means plenty of places for the elderly to sit and visit–inviting them to stay for hours while their children browse. It also accounts for the extrawide aisles to accommodate these family clusters in popular spots such as the butcher counter, where carving up a whole pig is a demonstration of quality.