A year on from becoming one of the only shopping centres in Australia to open amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Riverdale Village Shopping Centre has held a celebration day to officially welcome its retailers to the community.
The colourful event was the culmination of intensive work from retailers and the centre’s management to navigate a turbulent 12 months. Residents were treated to giveaways, Bollywood-inspired performances, a sausage sizzle and face painting, with members of Wyndham Council and the CFA also in attendance.
Fitzroys Shopping Centre Manager, Simone Talarico watched the centre come to life from the construction process, through to the opening in March 2020, and oversaw its operations through the depths of the pandemic and Melbourne’s reopening.
The Town Centre is part of the Riverdale Village master planned community, developed by YourLand and APD Projects. It is anchored by a full-line Coles supermarket and Liquorland and consists of a total area of 7,295m2. Initial tenants included Kangaroo Mobile Zone, One Stop Salon, Beauty Genesis, NewsXpress & Lotto, halal Riverdale Quality Meats and Produce, and Anytime Fitness.
“It was fantastic to finally be able to officially welcome the retailers to the community and celebrate the amazing support they have had from local residents,” she said. “We had a grand opening planned back in mid-2020, but obviously had to postpone that due to COVID. It’s been a rough ride for the tenants on-site with their first year of uncertainty.”
Talarico said it has been an intensive journey keeping the brand new shopping facilities and tenants operational for the local community, and maintaining the new job opportunities created by the centre’s opening. In a difficult time for the economy, the Coles supermarket created 149 new local jobs in the City of Wyndham, as well as opportunities for 40 team members transferring from other Coles stores across Melbourne.
During COVID, focus moved immediately to social marketing platforms to support the retailers and engage with the local community, to keep them updated and informed on who was able to trade during the various restriction periods. Riverdale Village Shopping Centre opened on Wednesday, 25 March with Stage 1 restrictions in place, and by Thursday morning Stage 2 restrictions were in effect, meaning some offerings were forced to close. Retailers were also encouraged to provide social media content to assist visitation, awareness and sales to their stores when trading.
“We have a focus on the centre being a community hub,” said Talarico. “Everything we did stemmed from that position.”
Talarico said the Centre’s stabilisation strategy has been developed with additional marketing funds from the landlord to further support the tenants at the centre. Despite the uncertain environment, a number of retailers have successfully started trading at Riverdale Village since the opening. They included Smokin’ Joes Pizza, Indian restaurant Rasoi, Raine & Horne, Bottlemart, YourLand, Direct Chemist Outlet and a medical clinic operated by GPs whom have a comprehensive understanding of the region.
“The ability of the centre and the retailers to open, trade and thrive throughout this period has caught the attention of traders and we’ve had ongoing wide interest from a leasing perspective,” said Talarico. “There are more openings coming soon. We are committed to getting the right retail mix for long-term optimal centre performance.”
She said the interest has been further underpinned by the high number of locals interested in work close to their home, or more flexibly, in an area in which they’ve built their own homes.
“Local operators continue to show they are keen to be at the heart of the western suburbs growth story,” Talarico concluded.