Mall Kiosks: Entryway To Entrepreneurship

Mall kiosks and carts are a popular way to start a new business, even in this economy.

Nationally, a growing number of people who have been laid off or are out of work are getting into the $12 billion-a-year specialty-retail industry, which includes gift shops and kiosks, said Patricia Norins, publisher of Specialty Retail Report magazine.

Locally, Park Place mall has many people interested in starting up, said Jim Heilmann, its senior general manager.

Both Tucson Mall and Park Place have 30 kiosks and are 100 percent committed for 2009 with a waiting list, he said. Heilmann said he has noticed the waiting list seems to be longer this year than in the past three years.

Foothills Mall has room for fewer kiosks than Tucson and Park Place malls because of county restrictions on spacing, but it is also seeing an increase in the number of people looking to begin new businesses, said Mary Stahl, marketing and sponsorship manager there.

She said the mall is a great place to start because there is guaranteed traffic, and malls are trying to work with their tenants in the rough economy.

One reason kiosks tend to be able to stay afloat in a tough economy, Norins said, is the ability retailers have to change products with the trends and seasons.

Heilmann said beauty products and cell phones typically do very well in Park Place.

Some trends that are popular now with kiosks everywhere, Norins said, are iPod accessories, mineral makeup, hair straighteners and children’s toys, especially if products can be demonstrated.

Brian Moore, who opened the Grandpa’s Collectables kiosk last month in Park Place, is using just that technique. Moore said his biggest sellers are remote-controlled helicopters that he flies around when children walk by.