Airport Board Approves New Concessions Vendors

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Natalie's Candy Jar is one of the existing local vendors that will expand its offerings at the airport. (rendering courtesy of Indianapolis International Airport) Natalie's Candy Jar is one of the existing local vendors that will expand its offerings at the airport. (rendering courtesy of Indianapolis International Airport)

The Indianapolis Airport Authority Board has approved new contracts for several retail and services vendors at Indianapolis International Airport. The contracts are the first of several approvals that are expected as part of the airport's Concessions Refresh initiative, which aims to increase the local focus among vendors. Marsha Stone, senior director of commercial enterprise at the airport, says the effort will be one of the most impactful public-facing projects that travelers at the airport will see.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Stone said the move to a greater local presence came from more than two years of research and customer feedback. 

"The travelers of the future are really looking for local experiences as they travel into any city and as they go through an airport, the traveler's looking to understand the sense of place in that location so that it's not just another airport," said Stone. "Travelers are really looking to get a flavor for what a city and a community and a region has to offer and we want to make sure we're representing all that is great about this city."

The airport says the new retail contracts represent a 45 percent increase in local sourcing of products grown or produced in Indiana, a 40 percent increase in retail concepts that represent the Indianapolis culture, and a 92 percent increase in diverse business participation. Stone says the project will include the construction of new spaces and a different allocation of vendors before and after security. About 30 percent of concessions will be located before security and 70 percent will be after security.

The newly-approved contracts include:

New Jersey-based Hudson Group will open four news and convenience shops, including two Indiana-themed locations featuring locally-crafted goods and products. Hudson will also bring nationally-recognized stores to the airport such as high-end luggage company Tumi, Vineyard Vines, Tech on the Go, and FAO Schwarz.

Atlanta-based Paradies Lagardère will open three news and convenience shops, two of which will be Indiana-themed. The company will also offer additional shops, such as No Boundaries, which features men's and women's sports clothing, Esavvy/The Scoreboard, which offers gaming and electronic products, and cosmetic brand MAC.

Existing local brands, including Just Pop In!, Enroute Spa, and Natalie's Candy Jar also received contracts to enhance and grow their current locations at the airport. The IAA Board is expected to approve more contracts later this year which will include new food and beverage vendors, as well as additional retailers, that will create an even greater local presence at the airport.

Stone says, with Friday's approvals, the airport can get started on what will be a three-year phased construction period. Construction projects will begin in the second quarter and the airport says five of the retail locations are expected to open around the fourth quarter. 

"Because so many of the concepts are being changed and we're going to have a massive construction on our hands over the next three years, we do not want to disrupt customer experience in the meantime," said Stone. "So you will see only a few locations at a time under construction so we can ensure we maintain a positive customer experience so it'll take about three years to roll out the entire program for both the retail concessions as well as the food and beverage offerings that will come forward in a subsequent meeting."

The Concessions Refresh Initiative began in 2016 in an effort to address the expirations of more than 40 existing vendor locations, which took place last month. You can learn more about the initiative by clicking here.

Stone says the move to a greater local presence came from more than two years of research and customer feedback.
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