Gone are the days of just stocking the shelves with sensible blouses, scented candles, caramel-and-cheese popcorn or basketball jerseys and waiting for customers to come to you.
Enclosed malls across the country have been experimenting with new ways to lure people in at a time when the brick-and-mortar retail industry has been struggling to adapt to a brave new world of e-commerce.
The Southlake Mall at U.S. 30 and Mississippi Street in Hobart is now offering classes and "locally inspired fun." It's launched the Live 360° program, which it describes as "an interactive program of classes, demonstrations, workshops and more allowing the community to actively engage around their interests."
The super-regional mall, home to more than 160 retailers, will offer a free cooking demonstration class from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at the JCPenney Court on the lower level. The Purdue Extension Nutrition Education Program will offer a cooking and nutrition class that will cover subjects like preparing easy but healthy meals that can be made quickly, fixing healthy snacks and stretching food dollars.
"We're hoping to help people understand the basics of nutrition and to save money at the supermarket while still buying the healthier product," Purdue University Extension Nutrition Education Program Specialist Beth Noel said.
Southlake Mall will host self-defense classes at 1 p.m. June 15, 22 and 29 on the lower level in the JCPenney Court. An Olympic Karate School instructor will teach people ancient fighting techniques.
The self-defense classes will be followed by Zumba classes at 2 p.m. June 15, 22 and 29. People can learn about the dance-based aerobic exercise program set to the beat of musical styles like tango, samba and flamenco.
The mall also has added Connect 4, checkers, Jenga and bean bag tosses at its center court by Mrs. Fields as a family playtime attraction.
Southlake Mall General Manager Peter Karonis said the mall has been regularly hosting more events like pet adoption fairs and the upcoming American Red Cross Blood Drive, which will take place from noon until 5 p.m. June 22.
For more information, visit the events page at shoppingsouthlakemall.com.