November 13 2012
The Shops of Grand Avenue and the Westown Association work together to build foot traffic at the mall.
Last month Grand Avenue went to auction and was taken over by its lender, 275 West Wisconsin Holdings LLC, at the price tag of $8.5 million.
Now the mall is pointing to a recent increase in occupancy, which it says indicates a turnaround.
"What people believe when they see a foreclosure, it sounds like doom and gloom," said Tracy Korpela, marketing director at the Shops of Grand Avenue. "In reality we're back to being as good as we were in the 1980s."
Thanks to its new "Pop-Up" shops, the mall welcomed 12 new tenants for the upcoming holiday season. The Pop-Up program offers entrepreneurs short-term leases on retail space at below-market rates.
It was perfect timing, Korpela says, since the biggest challenge the mall was facing was a dozen empty stores.
"We started with 12, and now we have none. It worked," Korpela said.
Several of the pop-ups are considering renewing or extending their leases based on their initial success, according to Korpela.
Another element boosting traffic at the mall is a program called Indoor & Instore. Operated by the Westown Association, vendors of its outdoor farmer's market relocate to the mall's second floor during the winter. Vendors sell local produce, prepared food, and arts & crafts.
Indoor & Instore operates every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. until December 19.
Pop-up shops are open during normal mall hours.