Saturday, August 11, 2018

Westfield Century City | Lefsetz Letter

Westfield Century City

It’s theatre.

The mall is dying, that’s what we read.

But in truth, the mall resembles everything else in modern America, there are winners and losers and you get to pick which side you’re gonna be on, it takes a ton of hard work, reinvestment, most people don’t want to make the effort, but if you do…

You know the mall, that’s where the chain stores live.

But not in Century City.

Owned by Westfield. Which was controlled by Australians who recently blew the whole chain out. Kinda like CBS and Viacom. The story isn’t Les Moonves’s transgressions, but Shari Redstone’s desire to merge the two companies and sell the thing, like Rupert Murdoch did with Fox. You see when an industry becomes mature, when it becomes challenged, the behemoths are victorious and the small fry are squeezed out. Kinda like concert promotion, it’s Live Nation and AEG, and then a bunch of also-rans.

The Westfield Century City is a winner.

Now it used to be about the Westfield Westside Pavilion, down the street, barely thirty years old, it’s toast, the retailers exited, the food court became a ghost town and now they’re turning it into offices, kinda like the Sherman Oaks Galleria, which Moon Zappa made famous in “Valley Girl,” it too is now mainly offices.

Only the strongest survive. The rich get richer. Can you say UNIVERSAL MUSIC?

They only redid the Century City mall a few years back. But today, like in tech, he not busy being born is busy dying, you can never rest on your laurels, you’ve constantly got to repair and recreate, kinda like painting the Golden Gate Bridge, you finish one end and you go back to the beginning and start all over again.

But no one goes to the mall anymore, it’s dying.


But there is room for one mall in every metropolis.

Call it theatre.

Call it showrooming.

When I got a Rolex back in ’77 the company didn’t even have an L.A. repair shop, never mind a retail space, but they’ve got a store in the Century City mall. As does Breitling. And Amazon. And Tesla.

I’m wondering whether I need a new Kindle, but I went in the store today and found out I did not.

As for the Tesla, this is the way you should buy a car. I’m afraid to walk on a car lot, I don’t want to be preyed upon by the salespeople, desiring to be my best friend, I’m just looking. And when you look at the mall, there’s no pressure, and you want one. They said I could get a Model 3 in 2-4 months for $49,9 plus tax. But the real closer was the car itself, with the glass roof and the iPad control system. It’s an appliance, more sophisticated and less complicated electronically than a Model S, and it’ll blow the doors off of your gas-powered car of choice.

And they had cornhole.

And Eataly.

They made the mall into a destination.

Now I’m not a shopper, I rarely go into a store, not unless I know exactly what I’m looking for and want to buy it. But sometimes you need to browse, for ideas, for information, you need a physical location for that, the Century City mall fits the bill.

So what have we learned here?

The public only has time for the best, and if you’re not it, find another vertical. Don’t try to be LIKE Drake, BE Drake!

And our country has gone upscale, we’re all aspirational. Everybody wants gourmet food and brand name items. Sure, there’s a market at the bottom, but that’s a race to the bottom, that’s why Wal-Mart is challenged, they cannot grow because too many people want what they’re not selling, no one brags they shop at Wal-Mart unless they’re a Walton.

And experiences are everything. Which is why you must design your website for usability more than look and people still want to touch stuff.

But not a whole hell of a lot of stuff.

The mall is no longer where kids go to hang out, it’s not where seniors go for coffee and a walk. It’s akin to Broadway.

Westfield realized this.

You need to go.


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