Holiday shoppers will see more local stores as they hit the malls this season.
Two new retail incubation spaces have opened in Kingsway Mall and West Edmonton Mall, since we wrote about the trend of local, independent retailers setting up shop in major shopping centres this summer.
On Nov. 15, Community opened in the refurbished south wing of Kingsway Mall. The new $50-million south wing houses larger format stores, such as Marshalls, Home Sense and an expanded H&M. Another 15 retailers are expected to move in to the spaces that once occupied Target, reports the Edmonton Journal.
A formalized pop-up space geared toward culinary startups, Community is meant to help businesses expand, market themselves, or in the case of Montreal-based chocolate and ice-cream shop, Cacao 70-The Dippery, test out the Edmonton market.
The space can accommodate up to four businesses on three- to four-month leases.
Currently there are three other retailers sharing the space with The Dippery — St. Albert-based bake shop Whisk (formerly Over The Top Cakes), as well as milkshake and herbal-infused lemonade stand Milk Milk Lemonade and Cookie Dough Stand, which are both from Calgary.
"Food is a really trendy item right now," says Lindsay Botha, specialty leasing and partnerships manager at Kingsway Mall. "It seems to be hot among consumers, and there are so many great food retailers out there that we wanted to explore that angle.”
Kingsway also began introducing local retail pop-ups this spring, including The Skinny (now located in Southgate Centre) and The Makers Keep, a collective of local makers, which has since signed a temporary lease with Kingsway. The store is now located in the new south wing.
Two new local boutiques are also popping up this holiday season. On Nov. 4, Athasbasca women's boutique Elle's Closet launched on the second floor of the new wing, while Glass Earth Inc., a St. Albert-based terrarium designer, will open its doors on Saturday, Nov. 25, near the main entrance.
“It really diversifies our merchandiser mix," says Botha. "I think it’s really great, because there are people who want to shop at Sephora and Lululemon, but those same people want to shop local as well... I really think that there’s a need for both the larger format and the local retailer and that they help one another.”
The fourth iteration of Built will also return to Kingsway starting Dec. 8. The temporary store features work from students and alumni of the University of Alberta's design and arts programs, as well as other local makers, including YEGBox, and runs until Dec. 22.
Meanwhile, West Edmonton Mall has also been supporting local small business with its new RAAS (Retail as a Service) market.
Launched in October, RAAS houses 25 primarily Alberta-based artisans and businesses that otherwise wouldn't have been able to set up in Canada's largest shopping centre, reports Global News.
RAAS is meant to reduce barriers of entry for setting up a retail storefront by providing short-term leases (the minimum lease is three months) on tiny spaces. Shelving and point-of-sale equipment are provided, making it possible to open quickly in a prime location, without great expense.
According to the Edmonton Journal, the concept is being tested in Edmonton, as well as the Mall of America, and could eventually be rolled out around the world.
Check out these Edmonton Made businesses at RAAS, located on Level One, Phase III, near the Santa Maria pirate ship: Grandeur, Essentials by Nature, Mala & Me, So Pretty Cara Cotter and Wild Prairie Soap Company.