NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – When you think “buy local, ” shopping malls may not be the first place that comes to mind, but there’s a growing trend among entrepreneurs to have storefronts inside those large spaces. It’s something managers at the Eastwood Mall are familiar with.
It’s been almost a month since Michelle Beauchene expanded her small business called Blush. She’s grown her gift boutique, spa, and essential oil company from one location to two with a storefront inside the Eastwood Mall.
“It was overwhelming and intimidating to think we’re going to be in a mall. We were a small shop coming to a mall,” Beauchene said. “It’s been just an amazing experience so far.”
Setting up shop inside a mall wasn’t really in her plan until she entered her business in the Small Shop Showdown, a contest sponsored by the Eastwood Mall Complex that would give the winner 26 weeks of free rent. Blush didn’t win, but the contest opened a door.
“We were one of the finalists but didn’t win. We met some of the team here and talked about it. It just felt like it was the thing to do,” Beauchene said.
Since then, her sales have doubled.
“For a small business, there is no better place to get a lot of foot traffic, especially this time of year,” said Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for the Cafaro Company.
Bell said they’ve been working with small retailers to expose them to more consumers by bringing them into the mall.
“When people think small business, they don’t always automatically think shopping mall. But the shopping mall is really just a collection of businesses and many of them are small businesses,” Bell said.
Of the nearly 200 businesses in the Eastwood Mall Complex, 43 percent are locally owned.
“There are just so many people, and it’s constant. You know and there are people out shopping and very happy that there is a small business vibe happening at the mall,” Beauchene said.