Retail Hubs

RETAIL HUBS Confined to their existing infrastructure, two airports share their renovation and expansion experiences By Jordanna Smida, Assistant Editor June 2000 Unlike the Pittsburghs of the world, when it comes to concession...


"We want to make it easier for our merchants to get a hold of people. We feel if they have a stable and well-trained work force it only translates to higher customer service," Paul Brown, executive director of ARM at ORD, states.

"We find that on average, based on skill level and other things, they'd make an average of one to two dollars more here an hour than on the street," he says. ARM also discovered that people who start working at the airport stay with the airport, Brown adds. One advantage for ORD is Chicago's public transportation system, which has CTA rapid transit rail lines running to ORD.

"We have a very good public transportation system and what we found was that people who live on the main lines are not aware of the types of opportunities that are here," Brown says.

Targeting their recruitment efforts to the areas on the transit line, ARM is hoping to educate people about employment at the airport.

"Hopefully by doing that we will create this culture of mainstay people that are contributors over a long period of time and understand how we want to approach things here," Brown says.

Recruiting a good work force has been a different story at MSP. Its largest challenge on the concessions side is finding a stable employee base. "We are in competition with every mall near us. We have a unique unemployment rate in this half of St. Paul," states Joe Anderson, MSP retail and concessions commercial management and airline affairs at MSP.

Concession operators have conducted job fairs and offer an employee incentive program that offers employees bonuses when someone they recommend is hired.

Transportation is also a concern. Many employees have to pay for parking; however, retailers are getting more aggressive about paying the monthly fee as a benefit for the employee, Anderson notes. "We're trying to do the same things everyone else is doing, and we're still having the same problems," he says.

Though the city has a bus line that runs to the airport, MSP is hopeful that a proposed Light Rail Transit system (LRT) may improve transportation to the airport for travelers and potential employees. The LRT would make a stop at MSP and end in the vicinity of the nearby Mall of America, Wennerstrom states.

Host Marriott acquired by Autogrill
Airport master concessionaire Host Marriott Services, now HMSHost, was acquired by Autogrill, an Italian highway restaurant company controlled by apparel retailer Benetton. The merger is expected to expand the company's business to include North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

CAPS Chicago Field Museum Store
Eric Griggs, deputy commissioner, Chicago DOA Concessions
American Kite Flyers Association Display
Mainstreet of Northstar Crossing
Chili's Too
Joe Anderson (left), MSP retail and concession management and airline affairs, and Gordon Wennerstrom, director of MSP commercial management and airline affairs, with the Minnesota Shopping Center Association's STARR Award for best redevelopment/renovation/restoration.
A young boy calls for his plane at ORD's Chicago Children's Museum's Kids on the Fly play area
Paul Brown, executive director of ARM
Food Court area at ORD
A tribute to Lt. Cmdr. Edward "Butch" O'Hare, resides in the ticketing area of ORD, named after the naval fighter pilot. O'Hare was awarded many honors throughout his military career including the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor for his decisive attack on enemy fighters which saved the U.S.S. Lexington.
Sola Squeeze, a locally owned natural fruit and juice, food and beverage operation at MSP Locally owned concept, the Minnesota store, greets guests with its moose.

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