Over the past weekend the Canberra Centre opened the doors of the newly refurbished Monaro Mall to unveil a world-class beauty and wellness precinct to scores of eager shoppers, with a series of masterclasses and a litany of opening-specials.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the opening festivities, and so on Thursday morning when my alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 5:00am; sleep-muddled and more than a little cranky I rolled out of my warm bed in order to get myself to there.
At 32 years of age, there isn’t actually a lot that I will get myself out of bed this early for anymore.
However, my parents grew up in Canberra and I have lived here for most of my adult life. My parents have told me stories of how when they were teenagers, the Monaro Mall was the only such shopping space in Canberra, and the place to hang out on a Friday night. I have a fascination with the way in which our city reinvents itself over time, and nowhere is this more evident than with the Canberra Centre. So I was easily lured with the promise of getting to take a stickybeak around the new precinct before the doors were opened to the public at 9:00am.
The first thing I have to say is that the new space is LUXE.
The Canberra Centre has invested a lot of time, effort, and yes, money; into the redevelopment of the Monaro Mall and it shows. The refurbishment is beautiful. Several of the new spaces are so aesthetically pleasing that I would happily rent them after-hours as a home. Seriously. Polished concrete and marble with pale wooden accents are the stuff instagrammable dreams are made of, and now the Monaro Mall too.
However it is not just pretty to look at, it’s functional to. The layout of the new precinct is fluid and spacious, with wide open walkways allowing shoppers to meander through the space without feeling cramped of harried. There’s a good mix of shops and kiosks, meaning that there is ample opportunity to browse to your heart’s content.
The range of new and old stores is unrivaled as well. The launch drew insane crowds for the new-to-Canberra Mecca Maxima and The Daily Edited pop-up, while the reinvigorated Lush also drew the attention of bargain-hungry shoppers. Not to be outdone, many of the new retailers had fantastic opening specials, like Jurlique, who offered a range of express treatments for free. I treated myself to an amazing 10-minute treatment to determine which products I should be using in my daily routine and floated out of the new boutique a changed man with a fist full of samples and a cheeky purchase.
I would have loved to attend all of the amazing masterclasses that the Canberra Centre offered over the weekend, however I had to dash off to the coast to attend my sister’s wedding, and this clash meant that I was only to attend one masterclass, Lola Berry’s Natural Beauty & Nutrition Masterclass. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, being a guy who doesn’t really dabble in makeup at all, and who’s idea of nutrition is limited to remembering to choke-down a couple of vitamin supplements each morning to try and stave-off scurvy, but boy was I in for a surprising treat.
Lola Berry is a phenomenal powerhouse of talents including nutritionist, author and yogi extraordinaire.
Her masterclass on Sunday, emceed by the lovely Amanda Whitley, was equal parts honest, inspirational and informative. I, along with the rest of the all-female audience, was captivated by the no-bullshit conversation that Berry wove throughout the class, and regaled by her sharing of her success and her failures, not to mention her beauty and wellness secrets. I walked away feeling genuinely empowered to go off and make some serious changes to my lifestyle.
The Canberra Centre really is doing the most as far as reinvigorating Canberra shopper’s customer experiences goes, and I think it is important to acknowledge that.
There are countless studies published that argue that malls are a thing of the past, a dying cultural institution. In an age where you can basically order anything you could want or need from the comfort of your lounge room, without a need to change out of your trackies in the dead of Canberra winter – customer service is key. The Canberra Centre is, to my mind, the best placed institution to survive online shopping, because it is constantly reinventing itself in line with what its customers want, and going above and beyond to provide the best possible experience for customers.
It will be interesting to see what the Canberra Centre will bring us next, and likewise, whether the other malls of Canberra will rise to the gauntlet that has been so expertly thrown.
The beauty and wellness masterclass series will continue over the months of July and August, with upcoming events with the likes of Max May, Sita Chan, Bonnie Gillies and Amy Erbacher. These are mostly ticketed events, but well worth the small price of attending in my humble opinion.
For more information or to book, head to the Canberra Centre masterclass landing webpage.