So, I decided to visit the place today. Our latest and - undeniably - greatest shopping center. First impressions. Big but not gigantic. Classy atmosphere. Comparable to Miami offerings. An impressive food court - unique for Curaçao - that would be a great venue to watch soccer and other sports. But also a lot of (too many even) "coming soon" signs on unopened units. Again these are all first impressions. As is the lack of apparent true diversity I seemed to notice when looking at the mix of stores.

Is Sambil good for Curaçao? I think it is. In these economic times multi million dollar investment are few and far apart. Very few locals invest this kind of money in our community and we must open our arms for any and all overseas investors that do.

Is Sambil a threat for Curaçao? Well the store owners in Punda and Otrabanda won't be happy campers right now. Sambil offers a fully air-conditioned shopping atmosphere while the shoppers in town are exposed to the elements.

Sambil offers free parking while the shoppers in town have to pay one guilder an hour for the privilege of being shoppers. Except of course in the Renaissance Mall where everyday free parking is part of the deal. Not that the one guilder is a steep price to pay. And yes there is more parking available now than ever before. But the thought of the meter running out makes for quick getaways lest the car get a clamp and a hefty fine from the parking authority.  Unless you park in the parking garage where you are billed upon leaving. In general, when going to town, you get in do your purpose shopping and get out. In the end most visits to town are being kept short. Perhaps too short for impulse buying. Not good for business.

Sambil's setup seems to optimize shopper safety. There are only a few exits and the place must be (or at least should be) bristling with security camera's. All areas are well lit, as opposed to the situation in Punda and Otrabanda. We have seen too many high profile - and unsolved - acts of crime in town to know that the level of security in town is not where it should be. And that despite the presence of police stations on both sides of the Anna Bay. I'm not saying that Sambil will be 100% safe, but I bet the chance of crime being successful is kept at a minimum.

Also the shop owners in town are perhaps their biggest enemy. From what I hear it's close to impossible to have them unanimously agree to any major improvement initiative. There are just too many freeloaders that benefit from investments in promotion and safety measures paid for by their fellow shop owners. Also, a lot of the shops offer similar merchandise which has them resorting to price wars, the only way left to distinguish your offerings from the neighbor's. Again, not good for business.

Not that Sambil is out of the woods. They still have quite a challenge ahead of them. All the coming soon stores need to materialize in the weeks ahead. Next they will have to find a way to attract large numbers visitors to visit the mall on a regular basis. Having top-of-the-line movie theaters will surely help. Once there, the crowd needs to be enticed to shop. This will only happen if store owners offer quality merchandise at completive prices. For promotional purposes I'd suggest Sambil install free high capacity Wifi so that visitors can flood Facebook with selfies as they go about their shopping.

Back to Punda and Otrabanda. Sambil in effect is a wake-up call for the shop owners in town. After too many years of close-to-zero evolution, they are now confronted by Sambil, a new life form that looks like a awesome threat. Like the dinosaurs many millennia ago, the shop owners in town now have three choices. They either (a) adapt to the new environment, (b) move to another environment or (c) close their doors and die. Here's hoping for Curaçao's sake that most of them will opt for the first alternative.