Shopping centers used to be places people frequented mainly because they wanted to buy something — a book, a pair of shoes, maybe a birthday cake.
While that's still the case to some degree, shopping centers have had to adjust to shifting consumer habits. They now offer fewer actual shopping opportunities than they do dining and entertainment options, as well as the kind of professional services once reserved for medical and professional office complexes.
Witness the mix of tenants at Rosedale Village at the northwest corner of Calloway Drive and Rosedale Highway. Among multiple restaurants and a few traditional stores, there's a chiropractor and a tax preparation service, a dental office, two fitness centers and a movie theater selling food and alcoholic beverages.
"The old traditional market, drug store shopping centers with the traditional retailers has changed," Bakersfield commercial real estate broker Duane Keathley said. "The experience is important. … (Shopping centers) want to be more convenient."
They're succeeding, judging by the experience of Daniell Schaub, a 30-year-old mother of three boys who swung by Rosedale Village Friday morning to take care of a few odds and ends.
She uses the e-commerce website Amazon to do some of her shopping online but still finds herself visiting the shopping center regularly because of how convenient it is.
"Everything's so close," she said. "In a mile radius I can do all my errands."
This trend toward more diverse shopping-center offerings is taking place across Bakersfield, but it's hardly a local phenomenon. Across the country, as young people lead a move toward more Internet purchasing, leasing agents are turning to nontraditional tenants to fill the space left behind by traditional retailers.
Fully a quarter of all leasable space at U.S. shopping centers is now occupied by non-retail, non-restaurant tenants such as personal finance professionals, health-care providers and colleges, according to real estate research company CoStar.
"There's a rise in entertainment, food and beverage, grocery, fitness, health care and other service and non-retail tenants entering shopping centers," Stephanie Cegielski, a spokeswoman for the International Council of Shopping Centers, said by email.
The trend is being well-received, too, according to the trade group's 2018 Mall Survey. It found 76 percent of U.S. adults find that having a "good mix" of physical retail and service-providing establishments makes their local community more vibrant.
It's plain to see that restaurants are a big part of Bakersfield's changing tenant mix. So-called fast casual eateries are opening up at a fast pace, giving locals new reasons to get out of the house at any given moment.
Colliers International broker J.J. Woods counted four new food establishments coming soon to Rosedale Village. A Roundtable Pizza will open there within maybe a month, he said, followed by a Crab N Spice, a Fire Wings and a Baskin-Robbins.
It's not just restaurants taking up the space as retailers close or shrink in size, he said, but also gyms and nail salons, gyms and massage places.
"We are definitely seeing a lot of food tenants — a lot of restaurants and a lot of service," Woods said. "As we change culturally, the retail tenants are adapting."
None of this is to say regular stores are disappearing entirely, Keathley said. They're just getting smaller as their place in society adapts to the demands of e-commerce.
Shoppers sometimes want to try on a piece of clothing or test out merchandise in person rather than simply ordering it blindly online, he said, adding that this preference has led retailers to keep at least some local physical presence.
Banks and other service providers are downsizing, too, he noted. He said to look for shopping center tenants to combine their offerings within a single space, such as drugstores partnering with dollar stores inside the same storefront.
"Retail's not going away," he said. "Retail's just changing."
'WAY OF THE FUTURE'
Bakersfield resident Ed Oliver, a distribution center operations manager who stopped by Rosedale Village to catch a movie Friday morning, sees the diversification of local shopping centers as the "way of the future."
One reason for this, he said, is that people who do most of their buying online now do less browsing at shopping centers. They're more purpose-driven than before, he said, and more interested in experiencing something they can't get at home.
Oliver does worry that the e-commerce trend has caused people to interact less than they used to, he said. But he likes what the overall shift has meant for shopping centers like Rosedale Village.
"It has a little bit of everything here," he said.