After 10 years, Village Pointe stays fresh with new merchants, engaging events
Back in 2004, when Scheels All Sports selected its future site at 168th and Dodge, the western edge of Omaha was still desolate.
“When we looked at the location, it was basically a cornfield,” said Dale Merkel, manager. “It was hard to visualize what was going to happen. But we hoped that with the growth of the city westward, in a short amount of time it would be the place to be.”
That place to be was Village Pointe, Omaha’s first lifestyle center mixing upscale shopping, dining and entertainment. Scheels’ assessment proved accurate — as West Omaha has grown, so has traffic to the now bustling Village Pointe area. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Village Pointe is still enticing people with a unique blend of merchants and community events.
Before Village Pointe opened, many Omahans trekked to Chicago, Denver or Kansas City to get their shopping fix at favorite national retailers. Village Pointe changed the game, offering shoppers first-in-Nebraska retailers such as J.Crew, the Apple Store and Z Gallerie, and restaurants like Cheeseburger in Paradise and Kona Grill.
The lifestyle center concept also set Village Pointe apart from the typical mall. The brainchild of Kansas City-based RED Development and Omaha-based Quantum Quality Real Estate, the $124 million, 650,000-square-foot development aimed to offer more than just a place to shop. The open-air design replicates a nostalgic Main Street retail district. Shoppers can park in front of their favorite stores and in ancillary parking lots. Lush landscaping accents winding sidewalks with outdoor fireplaces, water features and an amphitheater stage for concerts and community events.
“The thought was to create a space to shop, dine or simply hang out,” said Alicia Peters, general manager of Village Pointe. Located along Dodge, the lifestyle center is easy to access and offers something for everyone in the family, she said.
Over the years, Village Pointe has become a hub of community activity in West Omaha. Events like the upcoming Village Pointe Wine Festival, hosted by Brix June 6-7, offer entertainment options that don’t require a long drive downtown. On May 3, the popular Village Pointe Farmers Market opens for the summer season, bringing fresh, local food to the neighborhood. The Vibes summer concert series, holiday lighting ceremony and charity events are among the numerous ways Village Pointe sets itself apart from other shopping destinations.
“Our initiative to be part of the community is not just bringing in stores, but also giving more to the community by hosting events, reaching out and getting involved,” Peters said.
Village Pointe retailers have also found success with the lifestyle center concept. Whether it’s dining or entertainment bringing customers to the area, everyone tends to benefit.
“Everybody feeds off each other,” said Bill Kirshenbaum, owner of the boutique store Periwinkles for Her. His shop was among the first tenants at Village Pointe, and the location has proven a boon for business.
“People are tired of parking, going to malls and walking around,” he said. “Times are changing, and the outdoor lifestyle centers offer better, more upscale stores.”
For Scheels, the focus on community engagement fits well with its own emphasis on active lifestyles and in-store events for kids and families, Merkel said.
Gunderson’s Jewelers, a newcomer to Village Pointe, is also embracing the lifestyle concept. The Sioux City-based jewelry store is partnering with Village Pointe to bring music groups to the amphitheater — and host a pre-concert party in the store. The blending of entertainment and community can be a powerful tool for retailers. “The combination of retail merchants, movie theatres and restaurants generates interest and a place for people to congregate, whether they are shopping or going out to eat,” said owner Brian Gunderson.
In 2014, Village Pointe continues to bring new stores to Omaha. Soma, a women’s lingerie and loungewear store, opened on Main Street in April. The Art of Shaving, a store offering high-end shaving and grooming products, opens in early May. Both stores are unique to Village Pointe.
Looking ahead to the future, Village Pointe will continue to evolve to offer a distinctive experience, leaders said. That includes more tenant announcements in 2014 that will enhance its mix of entertainment, dining and shopping options, plus a refresh on paint and landscaping throughout the property.
“Over the last 10 years, Village Pointe has brought many first-to-the-market national retailers to Omaha,” said Bobby Johnson, executive vice president of leasing at RED Development. “The newest and most exciting brands are represented there, and we plan to continue that tradition in the months and years to come.”