It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at The Bridges shopping centre, Sunderland. Giant baubles and bells hang from the ceiling and stars twinkle in the frosty night sky. The smell of cinnamon wafts from the coffee shops creating the perfect seasonal ambiance and families queue up in the hope of meeting Santa Claus. The Bridges for one night only did a Christmas Shindig on Thursday night (28 November 2013) in the hope of “kick-starting” customers into Christmas shopping.
The Bridges aimed to give shoppers a preview of what was to be on offer over the Christmas period, with nearly all retail outlets jumping at the chance of being on board. With the majority of shopping centres having a dominant female customer base, The Bridges were keen to give men the VIP treatment last night. This star like treatment came in the form of the “Man Zone”.
The Man Zone or the “Man Crèche” as it also became known, was a retreat designed with the male form in mind. Daniel Brown, 24, worked in the man crèche area promoting the latest “must have” gadgets and toys from the shop Menkind; which is situated in The Bridges. Daniel said that “the man crèche is part of a bigger picture, a place where men can come and play games and relax away from the stress of shopping”.
As I strolled around the shopping centre, I looked at the all the keen shoppers, singing along to the Christmas songs, sipping on their coffee cups and ticking off gifts on their to-buy lists. I happened to stumble upon the long line of queues for the Treat Zones consisting of popcorn and snow cones, a very popular area of the lock-in and a personal favourite for the event organiser Samantha Czwordon-Wright. Samantha was enthralled with the public embracing the event and trying out what The Bridges had to offer. She was especially happy that there was a steady flow of gentlemen trying out the Man Zone.
The inspiration behind the male only area came three years ago at the World Cup, when another local shopping centre provided an area where men could go and watch the football whilst their partners immersed themselves in retail therapy. This win, win scenario is a winning formula for both men and women as both have a happy outcome. But it’s not just the customers who ended up happy.
Menkind reported an increase in general sales and of the Ted bear from the film of the same name and the Induction Smartphone Speakers, all down to promotion within the Man Crèche. The overall consensus of the night and the Man Zone was a positive one. The idea of a male escape place is revolutionary and was evidently embraced by the male attendees.
With sales increased and women going home happy due to their menfolk not getting under their feet whilst shopping, it appears that the Man Crèche was the place to be for keeping the peace this Christmas.