British Columbia

Richmond Centre aims to bring back shoppers with 90s-themed interactive rooms

The 90s are back at Richmond Centre, evoking nostalgia in parents, and giving their kids an idea of what teenage life was like some 30 years ago when the shopping mall was "the" place to hang out.

Rooms with Instagrammable-friendly rooms transport shoppers back in time to old high school days

Richmond Centre says it's hoping its Revival Room popup and 90s theme will bring shoppers back to the mall. The display runs until Sept. 4. (CF Richmond Centre)

The 90s are back at Richmond Centre, evoking nostalgia in parents and giving their kids an idea of what teenage life was like some 30 years ago when the shopping mall was "the" place to hang out.

People visiting the mall will see stores decked out as interactive rooms designed to transport them back to high school, hanging out in front of the TV, watching shows like Friends, or playing video games like Super Mario, Final Fantasy and Street Fighter.

It's the mall's bid to entice people of all ages back in the hope of boosting foot traffic and retail sales.

The Revival Room pop-up features three rooms decorated with furniture, gadgets and clothing from the 1990s.

"Throwback High is a high school, really. So you have lockers. And there's a trophy case. And there's an Instagrammable place where you can take photos that feature balloons, and then each of the lockers features clothing that can be purchased at our retailers, really highlighting the fashion trends," said Richmond Centre general manager Julia Dow.

One model sits at a desk with an old Apple computer, while another looks in a closet at the 90s-inspired fashions that can be purchased in Richmond Centre. (CF Richmond Centre)

The other two rooms feature a bedroom furnished with an old-school beige Apple desk computer and a "basement" with an old Nintendo and a couch to play classic video games.

Dow said the mall worked with stylist Peter Papapetrou to create a "look book" for young people to pick up clothing from the era, such as crop tops, oversized flannel shirts, floral dresses, overalls and clunky shoes.

She said since it unveiled these pop-up rooms on Aug. 11, visitors have appreciated the experience, which has brought in young people from as far away as Port Moody.

"A lot of folks are really enjoying moving through the rooms and really connecting with the authentic displays that bring them back to the 90s."

From now until Sept. 4, shoppers are transported back to the 90s with three interactive rooms, one of which is a recreation room complete with board games and a Nintendo video game. (CF Richmond Centre)

Creating events in shopping malls may become more popular in Canada, a trend that has been happening in the United States in the last few years, said Darren Dahl, a professor of marketing and dean of the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.

"A lot of retail moved online during COVID, and people had less ability to go out and about, so they were shopping online. Their shopping behaviour changed, so malls needed to experiment, create hype and motivate people to come in. Once they're there, there's a high probability they will buy something," he said.

Dahl says these pop-up rooms give visitors an experience not easily found online and create synergy with the other shops in the mall.

"Here's an experience to go to these rooms and have a sense of nostalgia. It makes the retailers happy. The landlords can say, 'Look, we're helping you get customers in your shops." 

Dahl says he anticipates more event-type marketing in Canadian malls in the future.

Richmond Centre's Revival Room runs until Sept. 4.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bernice Chan is a CBC News reporter in Vancouver. You can contact her at bernice.chan@cbc.ca

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