I've been working on setting up a social networking and social media center. I call it a direction and connection center. I want to put it in the heart of Chicago--Michigan Avenue. I have a lot of support from universities and the city and connections I have made over the last two decades. I see the need for a center like this but as I want it in a retail setting, what things should I watch out for or capitalize on or just be thinking about? One of the things to note is that I see that this type of center would appeal to a family, say a dad who needs to constantly keep up with the changing social media tools and strategies, the mom who wants to start a new business and even their kids who are into social but more for games, learning, etc. The center will not only respond to the need for learning but also the need for connection. My expertise is running networking events for years and I have run them outside of the business environment into the social side, hosting events like mini TED talks with people moving from table to table to talk about, as TED puts it, ideas that spread. (Hope this additional info helps)
It would certainly be viable, particularly if you create events that appeal to particular groups of people. Be sure to appeal to both sides of each group: providers (businesses) and customers.
For example, get a local restaurant to sponsor and provide samples of their food and do a presentation on how customers of restaurants can benefit from joining the restaurants list so the restaurant can send them special offers (such as what they're doing for Mother's Day or Thanksgiving) or a kids eat free night.
Do a night for organizations on how they can use social media to keep in touch with their members, collaborate with others, grow their group, and manage projects.
Encourage authors and local bands to use your center to meet with their fans. Explain how the artists can share their schedules with fans so they create a stronger fan base. Bill these as "fan appreciation events" and hold them before a major performance to get more fans to the event or before a new book or record comes out to increase sales.
A major benefit of your center could be teaching people to use LinkedIn and job boards to find employment. Provide assistance with resume creation, LinkedIn profile optimization, and how to search for jobs that are the best fit.
There are limitless ideas for how you can get sponsors to support your efforts and people through the door. These can get you started. Feel free to ask if you would like more.