By Vickie Welborn
PHOTOS BY HENRIETTA WILDSMITH/THE TIMES
New directional signs on incoming highways, fresh colors on logos and eye-catching landscaping are just a few of the outward improvements made in recent months at the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets designed to give an updated look to the retail outlet.
¨The spruced-up external look coincides with a new brand and marketing campaign. New York-based Garrison Investment Group, owners of the property since March 2013, switched the name late last year from the Outlets at the Louisiana Boardwalk to Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets to showcase the outlet store emphasis. ¨
“Our team is targeting that market,” Marketing Manager Ashley Davis said.
Announcements are anticipated this year on a new riverfront restaurant and additional national retailers that are “unique to the market,” said Davis, who cannot disclose details until the deals are complete. Until then, shoppers still will find some new faces among the more than 70 retailers. Charming Charlie opened Monday and Under Armour Factory is scheduled to open in mid-March. “That will be huge,” Davis said of the popular athletic apparel line.
They join recent retailers J.Crew, Torrid and Levi’s that opened in recent months. Davis compliments the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets owners with spending money on the property to make it appealing to the more nationally known brands such as J. Crew.
“We needed that big name and the owners invested to make it happen. That’s the first J. Crew in North Louisiana,” Davis said. “Levi’s opened last year, too, and is doing well.”
On the flip side, though, the shopping center has lost some tenants, such as Wet Seal, which closed hundreds of its stores earlier this month because of a bankruptcy filing, and Anna’s Linens. And a Coach pop-up store ended its temporary run.
Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets continues to aggressively market itself to tourists, which Davis estimates makes up 40 percent of the shoppers. A partnership with the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau and other hot spots in the area, including the renovated Municipal Auditorium, Sci-Port and the Gardens at the American Rose Center, aims to provide an “experience tour” for the group tour segment. The first tour last week allowed the visitors to pair chocolates from the Chocolate Crocodile with wine at Margaritaville Resort Casino. It’s capped off with a visit to Destiny Day Spa. “Instead of just dropping them off the bus... we’re creating these experiences for them,” Davis said.
It all goes hand-inhand with the new advertising campaign, conceived and designed by Strategy+Style Marketing Group, a New York City-area marketing consulting firm, features the headline: “Shop. Save. Dine,” which communicates the complete lifestyle experience the property offers. “Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets’ new marketing programming is not only visually-compelling as it effectively communicates its store roster and savings equation, but allows shoppers to easily connect with the property as a robust destination complete with outlet shopping, an array of dining options and recreation locations,” Strategy+ Style Marketing Group Partner Karen E. Fluharty said.
But the Boardwalk owners have not forgotten about the local shoppers. Davis encourages those who have not been in a while to check out what’s been taking place in their absence. The wayfinding signage that’s been erected throughout includes updates to the pylon and monuments to assist in pointing shoppers to different locations throughout site. Even motorists entering the property and parking garage will find new directional signs geared to helping with traffic flow.
“We wanted the wayfinding to be fresh and easy to read with a little bit of playfulness,” said Scott Bond, owner of Workshop Design in Kansas City. “We combined several elements from the new logo into the design— mainly colors and shapes — as a means to reinforce the development’s identity as a retail destination for the community.”
Newcomers or return shoppers also will find that the open-air trolley once confined to tracks inside the property has been replaced with one on wheels that is enclosed with air conditioning and heating. It also now has a parking lot route.
Davis makes a point of scheduling assorted special events and weekend entertainers that not only gives shoppers a little something extra but allows local groups to showcase themselves. She encourages people to view the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets as the “downtown mecca” of Bossier City and put it on their list to spend a few hours during their off time to see a movie, eat out and shop, or find a spot to visit with friends.
“A lot of locals have not seen our changes. There is a new feeling around the Boardwalk,” Davis said.