Local businesses filling out malls as national chains leave

Local businesses are opening in malls, where larger retailers once filled these spots.
Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 10:16 PM CDT
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DES PERES, Mo. (KMOV) - Local businesses are opening in malls, where larger retailers once filled these spots.

West County Center announced several stores opening this Spring and Summer, including local businesses, like Golden Gems. Sister co-owners Susan Logsdon and Amanda Helman are opening their third brick-and-mortar location this weekend in the mall and say it’s a dream come true.

“It’s really nostalgic for us to open up in a mall,” Helman said. “We both remember going to the mall, our moms dropping us off.”

The empowerment-focused retailer sells apparel and inspirational accessories. The sisters say the mall approached them about the opportunity to join the roster of stores.

“It’s a great way for people to be able to access local businesses,” Helman said.

The sisters say the mall storefront wouldn’t have been in their price range just a few years ago. But now, Golden Gems are joining a growing trend in malls, of local businesses filling out storefronts. Just down the way in West County Center is Arch Apparel. The Normal Brand opened late last year.

West County Center’s owner CBL Properties announced this week that it refinanced and extended its $161.9 million loan on the property. CBL owns 50% of the the mall. It comes as malls across America are looking for ways to adapt to the rise of online retailers and changing consumer habits, as revenues from storefront rents drop.

“CBL’s success in closing nearly $305 million in financings in the last 30 days clearly demonstrates the strength of our company and the quality of our properties,” CBL CEO Stephen Lebovitz said.

Over at the Saint Louis Galleria, local plant-based delivery service ‘rootberry’ is now operating full-time out of the mall’s former Weber Grill location. Co-founder and President Marc Connor says they saw an opportunity and took it.

“If you see that there’s an opportunity, and malls are a great one, reach out and see if you can make something happen,” Connor said.

Local businesses are something mall shoppers say they are watching out for, with more unique products to sell. The desire to shop local could be one way to help the mall market recover.