Having worked downtown for eleven years, I’ve seen every convention group that we’ve hosted. And who are they? They are church groups and future farmers, hardware store owners and race car suppliers, firefighters and D&D masters. They fill the hotels and restaurants and bars downtown. They do some shopping, but very few are shopping at Nordstrom.
Even the typical Indianapolis non-convention tourist isn’t interested in the downtown Nordstrom. They are either shopping with their family at the Zoo or Children’s Museum gift shops or they are eating and drinking before the Colts game, Final Four, or Indy 500.
The tourists who do have the dollars to spend at stores like Nordstrom are not spending them downtown. They rent a car or get a car service and go to Keystone at the Crossing and shop at Nordstrom, Saks, Crate and Barrel, and other high end retailers.
In a nutshell, there are not enough Nordstrom-like stores downtown to attract and keep the big spenders that make up a minor percentage of the downtown convention visitors. I think we should stop focusing on them on focus on everybody else.
A store like Target or IKEA would work. The downtown dwellers who don’t go to the mall now would have a reason to go to the mall on a regular basis. And the church ladies, future farmers, hardware store owners, race car suppliers, firefighters, and D&D masters would waste some time there too. And they would more likely make an impulse purchase of 20 or 40 bucks there than at Nordstrom where impulse purchases are much more expensive.
This is the reality of the downtown that we have been building over the decades. The push for conventions and family tourism and downtown residents have left us with very few to support Nordstrom. But there’s a retail gap that needs to be filled. A gap that so far is only filled at Glendale Mall or suburban malls. It’s time for downtown Indy to grow up and this is a great opportunity to make that happen.