I was strolling through the mall last week looking for a jacket to pair with a dress when I came across a mom and daughter duo selling Girl Scout cookies from a mall cart in the middle of the outlet. I am used to running into Girl Scouts in the front of the grocery or near popular events, so it was a shock.
The carts in the center of the mall used to lease at this Simon Property Group location in Charlotte, NC between $1,700-2,800 per month with a 36 month contract when I inquired in 2011. When I asked this proud Girl Scout mom about the availability, she stated it was $400 a month and you can pay as you go without a contract. I was even told there are daily rates for the weekend with no long term commitments.
For many entrepreneurs, the thought of having a retail presence in an outlet or premium indoor mall seemed impossible. We were conditioned to walk through Sears, JC Penny, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Barnes & Noble, and the food court, to be greeted by stores with a smaller anchor such as the Gap, Banana Republic, J. Crew to Bath & Body Works and Victoria Secret.
But, if you take a stroll through any mall today, many of the most notable anchors are long gone, leaving some malls with more noticeable empty spaces. 4,810 stores have closed within first three months of 2019 and thousands more are on the way according to CNBC.
So, triple net commercial property management groups are getting creative.
From local barber shops to local skin care product makers; the mall is giving the pop-up shop world a new vehicle to attract impulse shoppers, while increasing foot traffic again. In addition, it is becoming more cost effective than traditional retail, which also factors Common Area Maintenance (CAM fees) into the lease for garbage disposal, parking lot repairs, water, drainage, etc. Pop-up retail success stories depend on social media traffic to generate buzz about the availability to a service or product on a limited basis.
Don't be so fast to dismiss the upside potential of adding a pop-up shop element to your business because the mall seems like a dying business model. The big anchor model is dying due more factors than just online shopping, but retail developers are now seeking creative ways to balance their occupancy gap(s) and mitigate financial losses.
Go to the mall, locate an empty spot, get creative and negotiate.
Here are three reasons why you should consider a pop-up shop at the mall.
Location, Location, Location
It is accessible and easy to find. In addition, parking is always a bonus. Unlike traditional strip malls, where stand alone shops may limit the amount of competitive business models in their centers, malls do not have such restrictions.
For example, a strip mall with five spaces may not allow two clothing stores to operate at the same time. However, the mall does not require the same compete clauses in their contract(s), which allows them to operate an unlimited amount of clothing stores. In addition, some of the same commercial property managers also manage the shopping centers in major airports, so build relationships.
Product Demo and Testing
One of the issues with online shopping is the inability to touch the product before purchasing. I have purchased countless shoes and dresses online that did not appear even close to the picture advertised. The return process can also be time consuming. However, if your customer can touch and view the product, it can create a unique experience and increase your consumer base.
Your target market does not need to know that you negotiated a bargain on a space for the weekend, but they will believe that your business is credible because it is in the mall. Although the major anchor retailers are seeing a decline in presence, the smaller retailers are getting creative, and so should you.
If you use your social media platforms to make the right announcement such as "We are popping up today only at Midtown Mall, and all custom tees are $15," the crowds will come. You do not need to be a huge brand, but the more you "pop-up" in major malls in major cities, you will increase your credibility as a high growth entrepreneur and/or company.
If a mom & daughter Girl Scout duo can hit their sales goals within one day from such a presence, so can you.