Mom and Pop Go to the Mall

Discussion
May 05, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Big box stores are not the only new type of tenants taking space in malls around the country. According to a report in the Detroit News, many small retailers lured by the increased level of security and attractive lease terms for kiosk and/or store space are setting up shop in local malls.


Patrice Duker of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) said, “You’re seeing mall owners being much more aggressive in recruiting these types of retailers. They add a uniqueness to the mix. It allows for that very unique shopping trip that malls are looking for.”


Kathryn Deane, president and chief executive of the fashion consulting firm Tobe Report, said, “Shopping centers realize that its important for them to stand apart from other centers and one way to achieve this is by having stand-alone specialty stores their competition won’t have.”


To attract smaller retailers, malls are offering shorter lease terms for stores and kiosk space on the floor for those looking to test the waters.


Fairlane Town Center leases kiosks for six months and lets retailers move into store locations on a year lease rather than the typical three to five-year contract.


“They get a full season and a half to expose their merchandise to the marketplace and they have the benefit of building a customer base,” said Fairlane General Manager Catherine O’Malley. “When you take a look at what’s happening in our industry, how did some of the giants grow? They had to start somewhere.”


Moderator’s Comment: Are the additions of big box stores and small retailers to mall locations making a difference in how consumers view malls and the
retailers in them? How would you describe what you see as the mall of the future?

George Anderson – Moderator

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9 Comments on "Mom and Pop Go to the Mall"


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Karen Kingsley
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Karen Kingsley
15 years 9 months ago
Having not done, or read, any specific research on the topic, it would be presumptuous of me to say how consumers feel about this trend. However, I can say with confidence that consumers are tired of the cookie-cutter sameness of most current malls. A combination of big box stores and mom and pop outlets alleviates this issue – so I would assume consumers will respond favorably. I know I would (and I have not willingly gone into a mall in a very long time). The larger question of whether this is strategic on the part of the mall owners is actually more interesting. I somehow doubt it. There is empty space; it needs to be filled; they figured out a way to do it. The fact that it may be precisely the strategic move to revitalize malls is a happy consequence. I have done some work with mall owners and, historically, the emphasis has always been on recognizable brands, which is how we landed on so much sameness. I’ve often said, “I’d rather be lucky… Read more »
Al McClain
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Al McClain
15 years 9 months ago

I don’t buy it. My take is malls that bring in kiosks, mom and pop knick knack stores, wall advertising, etc. can’t get the stores they really want and need so they have lowered the rent and are now attracting odds and ends. Our local mall has an “As Seen on TV” shop now. Not the kind of thing you need to make your mall unique. What many of these older malls need is some investment in the decor, and some true destination stores that are hot today.

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 9 months ago

Karen and Al both have it right. With so many big stores closing/consolidating, there’s extra space sitting and lease prices are coming down. It may well produce a mix that serendipitously happens to resonate better with shoppers today. I’ve always been puzzled why there aren’t more doctors/dentists etc. at mall locations. It certainly works for optometrists. We all like to combine trips for convenience’s sake, and I think that a few years down the line we’ll be able to find more service-type businesses in malls. Or, at least we should!

Mark Barnhouse
Guest
Mark Barnhouse
15 years 9 months ago

The presence of local independent retailers in traditional mall settings is not necessarily a bad thing, but the smart consumer, seeing mom and pop selling imported knick-knacks, fireplace accessories, or hand-made rustic furniture in a space that used to be occupied by The Limited, sees the handwriting on the wall and starts dis-connecting themselves from the mall. Lacking compelling merchandise (as most mom-and-pop stores in malls tend to do), these indy stores create a reason NOT to go back to the mall. Eventually, the mall is torn down and the vast acres it occupied are re-purposed as a mixed-use project with some retail component. Mom-and-pop stores are the first sign of decay.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 9 months ago

I personally think it’s a great idea! In many locations, malls have lost their draw. Their merchants may no longer be the stars of the retail world and traffic may have diminished to the point that retailers who usually depend on the draw of a “high traffic” anchor store can’t make a profit anymore. If a flea market atmosphere were created in the vacant spaces in a failing mall, it could possibly save the mall.

Richard Layman
Guest
15 years 9 months ago

Interestingly enough, last fall the Detroit News had a story about the failure of an independent store in the Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi. There is a history of decades of failure for independents in malls, although I suppose that lifestyle centers offer a new venue and opportunity. According to the various articles I see in the Richmond Times-Dispatch about the two new lifestyle centers, a number of independents have located there, although already some have closed.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004 — Detroit News

Hasek can’t skate on mall rent: Ex-Wings goalie shut his store, but Twelve Oaks says he owes $500,000.

Ben Ball
Guest
15 years 9 months ago

A mall is just a strip center with covered walkways and less convenient parking. Been to many strip centers lately?

On the one hand, this devolution of malls is entirely logical. After all, Webster defines a mall as “…a complex of shops with associated passageways and parking space.” Putting the shopkeepers back into the malls is simply a return to their original purpose.

On the other hand, it is a classic supply and demand situation. Malls have excess capacity and too little demand. Their attempts to fill the space with small retailers will fail as long as the only benefit they offer shoppers is “variety with convenience.” But watch for the emergence of themed malls — one’s with a common thread to the tenants that makes them an irresistible location for a given consumer target. Antique malls. Furniture malls. Home appliance malls. Interior decorating malls. Cooking malls. Who knows what malls?

bob putnam
Guest
bob putnam
15 years 9 months ago

As a mall tenant and small independent retailer for the last 13 years, I have seen a lot of tenants come and go. As far as the mall owners go, they do not care what goes in the mall as long as someone is paying rent. Five years ago, the mall where I am had this major move to replace all the locally owned stores with national chains. I see a current trend of declining traffic in the mall due to internet (eBay). Now half the people think my brick and mortar store should be a place to get ridiculous low prices similar to eBay, and just the overall clientele in the mall being inconsiderate, noisy…majority not there with a real purpose of shopping.

Mall owners tend to shake your hand with one hand and stab you in the back with other.

Mike ODaniel
Guest
Mike ODaniel
15 years 9 months ago

Sure, there is a history of failure of independents at malls. You can make a mistake or two in launching your retail store in a strip center if you’re paying $20 a square. When you have to pay in the neighborhood of $75 a square foot, you had better hit on all cylinders and you had better hit hard with one heck of an appealing concept and not go cheapo on the leasehold improvements or you’ll sink.

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