The need to provide a shopping "experience" is causing an increase in the number of retailers offering highly specialized products and services. For instance, at Build-A-Bear Workshop, customers stuff their own bears, create customized birth certificates, and choose customized clothing. Maxine Clark, chief executive "bear" of the St. Louis-based company, explained that the stores provide consumers with a more hands-on experience than they would get by simply picking stuffed bears off a rack.

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so the bears' clothing will reflect up-to-date fashions, she said. "Retailing is entertainment, and the store is a stage. If customers have fun, they will spend more.

When developing retail/entertainment facilities, it can be challenging to "be original," said Stan Eckstut, principal at Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut and Kuhn Architects in New York City. "Thinking small" is generally the key to success, he said. "Small spaces, small streets, small details add up to smaller risk," Eckstut said. In addition, places should be designed for local residents, rather than tourism. "If it works for the locals, the tourists will come," he noted.

Retail is the "social lubricant" of public spaces, said Jeffrey J. Gunning, vice president, RTKL Associates, Inc. in Dallas. "Retail acts as the dots to connect entertainment uses. The draw should be the entertainment value of the whole place, not that of any particular tenant," he said. Places that are "cool, fun, social, and energizing" will put visitors in the mood to make spontaneous purchases, Gunning noted. "We draw people who are shopping based on desires, not needs," he said.