August 19th, 2009Malls get creative in luring cautious consumers
As Southeast Valley shoppers shut their wallets in response to the economic downturn, they’ve left a trail of empty spaces in area malls.
Those closures have forced leasing agents to find new and creative ways to keep their shopping centers filled.
“It would take an awful lot for a center to close down,” said Erin Hershkowitz, a spokeswoman for the International Council of Shopping Centers. “For right now it’s finding creative ways to get tenants in.”
Some of those ideas include offering shorter-term and renegotiated leases, sometimes to non-traditional tenants.
At Superstition Springs Center in Mesa, for example, an aviation museum and a charter school now market themselves in retail storefronts. At Fiesta Mall, two new big box retailers have taken over a former department store space, while a number of local “incubator” businesses are occupying smaller retail spaces.
Jamie Watson, who owns Pixie Place, a gift and activity store for girls, signed a one year lease at Fiesta Mall that ends in October.
She started out in booth at a Phoenix swap meet, and as business grew she decided to move her booth into a kiosk in the mall. But a better deal was offered to her to open in a store, so she signed a one year lease.
A month ago, Kokobelli Bagel Cafe, an east Mesa bagel shop locally owned by Sam Kirdassi, opened its second store at Fiesta Mall’s food court.
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