While many retailers are transitioning from the physical world of brick and mortar stores seeking an online storefront, we, at Eidi Properties, feel that shopping centers bring value to our communities. Therefore we have proudly increased our commitment to neighborhood shopping plazas. Ramy Eidi, President and CEO of Eidi Properties, is fond of saying, “until you can get a haircut online, shopping centers are here to stay”.

There are certain advantages to some online shopping developments, but the rush out of the physical door seems too hasty. Sure, stores like Amazon have tremendous buying power and therefore can undercut many retailers on a price for price basis, but what they can’t do is replace the human experience that is involved in shopping that goes beyond merely acquiring merchandise. This can be seen by virtue of Amazon buying Whole Foods in order to have physical stores.

Shopping has evolved into a much more dimensional experience than simply purchasing desired goods. People need a place to get out of the house. People want to stop and grab an ice cream cone. You can’t email your clothes to the dry cleaner and doing physical comparisons is still one of the many ways people like to experience what they buy.

A driving factor in why we are committed to neighborhood shopping centers is how they are good for the local community. By having a place for people to shop, the community profits. People are needed to work in the stores and maintain the structures. Shopping centers drive local development, adding value to the whole community.

Local stores provide tax revenue to the local treasuries, which support communal institutions like schools, local sports and infrastructure. And people who earn money spend money. By providing places to work and do business, we expand the investment into our local economy as well. Each dollar earned gets circulated through the economy via spending, which further grows economic opportunities. This cycle helps entrepreneurs as well as consumers and workers within a community.

When someone buys from Amazon, they contribute to commerce, but that commerce doesn’t belong to a neighborhood or community. Shopping centers concentrate their impact on the local economy. Because of that we are happy to contribute and commit to investments into our neighborhoods, towns, organizations and people. We view profits as more than what can be seen on a profit and loss statement. Profits are how we impact the world and particularly the world that immediately surrounds us.

By supporting local investments, we also create platforms for others to leverage their needs. By having local stores, our friends and families can more easily find sponsors for local sports teams, youth organizations, clubs and fundraisers. Even if a store is a national chain, if it has a local presence through a franchize, then local organizations can connect easily with the franchisee in order to obtain sponsorship.

The digital world is great. It has done positive and powerful things to improve people’s consumer options and grow economies worldwide. It is important to understand, however, it has augmented shopping and not replaced the need for local, physical shopping options. Remember, you can’t get your haircut online and until you can, local shopping centers will remain valuable.