When is a shopping center more than just a shopping center? The question may seem simple at first, but in many ways it is an idea that can move an entire community. Such is the case with Manaira Shopping, which first opened its doors nearly thirty years ago. The sweepingly large shopping center has seen itself grow and evolve over the years into an institution that has brought innumerable benefits to the area and people it serves. Thanks to the forward-looking vision from founder Roberto Santiago, the commercial complex has done more than just offer commercial goods, it has brought a new way of life to the many thousands of people that have paid it a visit. Read on for a look at how the shopping complex contributes to the lives of many, in ways that may surprise you.
Manaira Shopping was created with modest means. Originally built with a 6,000 square meter footprint, the complex was created to serve a community that, at that time, had few options for the purchase of commercial goods and services. But the continued growth of the complex, which has undergone numerous renovations and now covers an area of 80,000 square meters, reveals the deeper ideas at play in the creation of the shopping center. These ideas, born from the mind of entrepreneur Roberto Santiago, are rooted in a desire to combine the opportunity of attaining goods and services with a goal to bring families and friends together in a communal environment.
Those ideologies, lofty as they may seem, were baked right into the initial conception of the shopping complex. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they also were developed in part through conversations between the founder and his father. Those conversations began at the announcement that Santiago wanted to begin his new business venture. What followed was a continuous back and forth with his father over what to prioritize in the building of the new complex. So formative was this guidance that the entrepreneur credits his father’s input and support as being critical to the success of his undertaking.
The shopping center that would eventually emerge as a result of the early planning and idea formulation has become a pillar of its community. Showcasing approximately 300 stores and numerous entertainment and dining options, it has brought a myriad of commercial experiences to its home city of João Pessoa in the Brazilian state of Paraíba. Not only is it a point of pride for the community due to its amenities, it also stands out as the largest shopping center in its entire state.
Beyond size alone, the shopping complex has also brought numerous opportunities for cultural development to the city in which it resides. As the home of the College of Higher Education of Paraíba, the shopping center has made the rare transition to also doubling as a place of learning. In addition, the center houses a gym to help promote the health and well-being of its patrons, and various banking options to allow shoppers to manage their finances from a central location.
Access to culture
One of the central features of the shopping center that serves to set it apart from others of its kind is the climate-controlled event venue known as Domus Hall. The hall, which is located on the roof of the shopping center, first opened in November of 2009 and has an ability to hold some 8,000 people at a time. The immense hall is comprised of two levels, known as the mezzanine and the ground floor. Though the venue is often used as a place to hold concerts and other musical events, it has also been used for other cultural events. These events have included art exhibitions, receptions, fairs, theatrical performances, and more.
The range of events held at Domus Hall helps speak to the realization of the initial vision Roberto Santiago held when he first built the shopping center (Terra). Through attendance of the various instances of arts and entertainment held at the hall, families and friends can spend quality time with each other while engaging a wide swath of cultural offerings that might otherwise be under-appreciated. The fact that the event venue was created as part of the continued expansion of the shopping center helps to underscore the entrepreneur’s commitment to better serving his patrons. This commitment is illustrated in the shopping center’s motto, “Always Thinking of You.”
The influence of Manaira Shopping reaches well beyond the walls of the shopping center itself. Local residents have singled out the center for helping to vitalize the surrounding area. When asked to reflect on the center’s greater influence, one resident recalled a time from before it existed where those who wanted access to many commercial goods and services had to make a lengthy trip to São Paulo or even Rio de Janeiro. But with the addition of the large shopping center to João Pessoa, residents found that they could meet their commercial needs in their own community. This, in turn, helped to provide residents with a greater ability to meet a range of other needs as well.
In this way, the shopping center has become almost inseparable from the city in which it is contained. With its ability to provide residents with the ability to purchase goods and services locally, along with an increased access to the arts, it has become a point of pride for those who live near it. This relationship between the public shopping center and those who utilize its services for their daily needs goes back to its conception almost thirty years ago. That conception continues to be relevant today and continues to guide the mission of the institution at large.
Looking back on the question at the beginning of this piece, it’s clear there are numerous things that can contribute to a shopping center becoming more than the name alone would imply. When such a center can integrate itself into the daily lives of its patrons, or provide them with a means for enriching themselves through education or cultural events, then it has surely grown beyond the expectations of most commercial institutions. By many metrics, Roberto Santiago Manaira Shopping has achieved these lofty ambitions. As the shopping center continues to expand and evolve, guided by founder Roberto Santiago himself, it will undoubtedly continue to find new ways to serve its community and the people who utilize its services regularly in their lives.
More about Roberto Santiago and Manaira Shopping on Crunchbase