Monday, January 23, 2017
Airport retail options grow along with rising passenger counts
Green Bay Packers gear is more prominent in the newly redesigned Madison Xchange store, located within the secure area of the terminal at the Dane County Regional Airport. Retail and restaurant sales at the airport over the next 10 years are predicted to hit more than $81 million in gross sales and generate over $12 million for Dane County, which receives a portion of sales.
There’s more space for sweatshirts touting Madison, the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers.
Shelves at Madison Xchange hold coffee cups adorned with whitetail deer, there are racks of electronics accessories and magnets in the shape of Wisconsin.
Cheese is a big deal, with two coolers in the 2,500 square-foot store dedicated to curds from Bucky Badger, goat cheese from Nordic Creamery in Westby and garlic cheddar from Jim’s Cheese Pantry in Waterloo.
Next door, at the 600-square-foot Metcalfe’s Local To Go, coolers are filled with fresh salads, wire bins are stocked with apples and bananas, and the shelves include an array of locally produced food items like Potter’s Crackers, chocolate’s from Infusion and Gail Ambrosius and hand-cut gourmet potato chips from Slide.
Metcalfe's Local To Go opened in 2013 at the Dane County Regional Airport but was recently updated and expanded to meet growing demand as air travel continues to rise.
Shopping and dining at the Dane County Regional Airport has received a $3 million upgrade over the past six months and if passenger counts continue to rise, more improvements could be coming.
Officials held a series of ribbon cuttings last week to show off the latest improvements to the airport where passenger traffic was expected to rise by double digits in 2016 compared to 2015.
The projects, all located beyond the TSA checkpoint, include a more than $1 million revamp, expansion and renaming of what is now Madison Xchange, a revamp of the smaller Madison Xpress store, moving and doubling the size of Metcalfe’s and improvements to dining. Those restaurant projects included an upgrade to Ancora Artisan Coffee & Tea and the addition of Mad Town Gastro Pub and Vinoteca Wine & Tapas Bar.
A cooler stocked with Wisconsin cheese is among the many offerings at the revamped Madison Xchange store at the Dane County Regional Airport. The 2,500 square-foot store recently underwent a more than $1 million renovation.
“We think this is among the finest in the nation, especially for this size of airport,” said Bradley Livingston, the airport’s director since 2003 and deputy director from 1986 to 1996. “The market is growing. It was a very small offering (13 years ago) with a very finite product line. It’s really changed and you really can’t compare it.”
Livingston said there were about 1.8 million arrivals and departures in 2016, a 10 percent increase over 2015 and the airport has the highest growth rate in the state and one of the highest in the country for an airport its size. In October, the airport marked its best single month in history as 91,151 passengers departed, a 13 percent improvement over October 2015. If growth continues at its current pace, Livingston believes more improvements could come in the next two to five years near gates 1 and 2 on the north end of the terminal.
SSP America was awarded a 10-year lease for food and beverage operations in May and partners with local companies to provide restaurant, cafe and bar service at the airport. Gross sales, according to Livingston are “conservatively” estimated to be $48 million over the term of the contract and generate $8 million for the county.
A 10-year contract with Atlanta-based Paradies Lagardere for the operation of the Madison Xpress and Madison Xchange shops is expected to generate $33 million in gross revenues and return $4.6 million to the county.
Magnets, coffee cups and other items promoting Madison and Wisconsin are among the items that fill Madison Xchange at the Dane County Regional Airport.
“Madison has changed significantly between Epic (Systems Corp.) and all the companies you have here and the state Capitol and we want to make sure the store reflects everything that makes Madison great,” said Gregg Paradies, president and CEO of Paradies Lagardere, which has 850 stores and restaurants in 98 North American airports. “We love more traffic because that helps us do more traffic as well.”
The Madison Xchange store sells magazines, beverages, snacks and sundries. Julie Brown, the store’s general manager, said the new layout includes more prominent locations for Badgers and Packers gear but still provides day-to-day travel items like magazines, candy and other items.
Most of the electronic accessories are aimed at Epic workers who account for a staggering 15 to 20 percent of the airport’s traffic.
Making sure the store is adequately stocked with local products is also key, Brown said.
“There’s a lot of (local) things out there but you only have limited space on where you can go with it,” Brown said. “So you try it, and maybe it’s not the right thing so you get rid of that and get something new. It’s kind of trial and error and keeping it fresh for the consumer, too.”
Metcalfe's Local To Go has nearly doubled in size and has increased its offerings to its customers at the Dane County Regional Airport. Many of the items are designed for travelers looking for quick and easy to handle food items.