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Spring 2010 Maximizing Profits in Pennsylvania

Time management and dogged determination have yielded strong results for Kelly Rodacay at Westmoreland Mall in Greensburg, PA. Through her efforts, Westmoreland has garnered impressive revenues even in these trying economic times.

Kelly Rodacay knows time management is key. Rodacay is the assistant general manager/specialty leasing manager for Westmoreland Mall in Greensburg, PA, a town 45 miles east of Pittsburgh. Not only does she run a specialty leasing program that includes 22 carts, 2 kiosks and 18 inlines, but she also leases space in a 280,555-square-foot annex spanning the entire rear of the property. Included in the annex is a building now dubbed the “Event Center” (a 57,483-square-foot vacated Shop ‘n Save space) in which Rodacay hosts monthly shows.

Rodacay has consistently made sure to increase the profitability of “every nook and cranny” of the specialty leasing space in her purview. She has an enviable track record that has significantly impacted the bottom line. Every year since she started her position in 2006, she has exceeded the previous year’s specialty retail income. In 2009, even during tough economic times, she exceeded the 2008 specialty retail income by $57,984.

Previous experience

Rodacay came to Westmoreland Mall in February 2003 as an on-site permanent leasing assistant. In 2006, she moved into the position of assistant general manager/specialty leasing manager. Her ability to think creatively has permeated every part of the shopping center.

Developing solid relationships with retailers is one of Rodacay’s key strengths. “I develop a relationship where they can trust me and I meet them somewhere in the middle,” she says. The “meeting in the middle” could apply to many business basics including rent, use clauses and more. To know exactly where there is room to move on deals, a strong knowledge of the industry, especially as it is applicable to one’s own mall, is key Rodacay says. “I develop a business relationship [based on trust] where we can mutually negotiate any business points. We want a deal to be good for CBL as well as the future prospect.” Rodacay adds.

Retailer relationship

Between the annex and the available inline space in the mall itself, Rodacay has been able to offer her tenants numerous growth opportunities. Four of Westmoreland’s current inline tenants started on RMUs—three during Rodacay’s tenure. Rock Star, a retailer who sells branded merchandise, started on a RMU in the mall, moved to an inline space in the annex and then came back to the mall as an inline. “The rent is much higher in the mall, so the transfer doesn’t work for everyone,” says Rodacay. “He had built up a clientele.”

When looking for new uses to keep the mall fresh, Rodacay never tires of pursuing those of interest. “I’ve got tenants who’ve said ‘No’ four to five times that have come in [to the center]. ‘No’ can always be turned into a ‘Yes’,” she says.

She looks for tenants at shows in the mall and at the Event Center. Rodacay also visits area events—such as Fort Ligonier Days—to find prospective clients. Fort Ligonier Days is a three-day fall festival in Ligonier, PA. Firefly Chocolates, retailing homemade chocolates and Old Towne Views, a retailer selling nostalgic photos of area towns came from there.

Display details

Once retailers enter the program, Rodacay has certain merchandising guidelines they must follow. “I talk [to retailers] intensively about visuals and I also provide a name and number of a local merchandiser they can hire for initial set-up. I ask them to think about a theme and stick with it and not to vary and confuse the cart,” she says. Rodacay has won her company’s premier visual award for “Best Overall Visual Program” in the region three years in a row—from 2007 to 2009.

There is no doubt that Rodacay has many strengths, but it’s her passion that makes it all happen. “If you love what you do, you’ll come to work every day and get it done,” she says.

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Eventful Income

Westmoreland’s Event Center hosts craft shows, home shows, beer and wine tasting expos, mixed martial arts events and gun collector shows, to name a few. The Event Center has proved to be very profitable, not only in terms of income but also in sourcing new tenants. Many retailers currently in the program came from Westmoreland’s own shows.

Shows have also increased traffic in the shopping center. Some of these events draw in as many as 25,000 people. A large portion of these visitors wanders over to the mall. “If it’s a craft show, the wife will go to the event and the husband will go to the mall. If it’s a gun show, the husband goes and the wife comes to the mall,” says Rodacay.

Recently a local banquet hall closed down. So a decision was made to refurbish the center so it could also accommodate events such as weddings, banquets and social occasions. This process is currently in the planning stage and is projected to increase the presence of the Event Center and the bottom line of retailers.

Emily Lambert

Lambert, a senior writer for SRR, resides in Philadelphia. She can be reached at .

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