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Retail centers add more local shopping, dining options to tenant mix

Local retail centers are working to provide a tenant mix that includes mom-and-pop businesses, but that wasn’t always the case.

Long the domain of big name retailers, major shopping malls and other retail centers are taking a closer look at the robust sales growth of small-businesses and viewing them in a more favorable light than ever before.

The benefits go beyond a potential sales lift in an increasingly digital shopping world. A varied mix of tenants differentiates shopping centers from other similar retail destinations, industry experts said.

Shannon Troy, spokeswoman for International Council of Shopping Centers said responding to consumer demand is a critical component of success for every shopping center

“We’re increasingly seeing that consumers want variety and they want a place that meets all their needs,” Troy said. “This could translate to locally-owned stores, big box, or even a mix of entertainment and retail.”

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Bee U Retail & Consignment shop offers new and gently used clothing of all sizes. (NICK GRAHAM/STAFF)

Bridgewater Falls is seeking to create that variety in its central Village area, offering a selection of small, locally owned businesses including, but not limited to Sterling Seraph, Fuji’s Houjse Japanese restaurant and L&T Nails.

Longtime Hamilton resident Christine Rindler opted to open Bee U Retail & Consignment at Bridgewater Falls in Fairfield Twp. late last year, offering a mix of new and consigned clothing in “all sizes for everybody.”

Customers, she said, drive from hours away to peruse the new store’s selection of big-and-tall merchandise.

The move to Bridgewater Falls gave the business a location that shoppers not only know, but also one that they frequently shop, as opposed to Bee U’s former locations at “dead strip malls.”

“It was a horrible situation, but you get what you pay for,” Rindler said of her store’s previous incarnations. 

Christine Rindler stands in her Bee U Retail & Consignment shop located in Bridgewater Falls near the roundabout. The shop offers new and gently used clothing of all sizes. (NICK GRAHAM/STAFF)

Local and regional options are on full display at The Streets of West Chester, located just off Interstate 75’s Union Centre Boulevard exit in West Chester Twp., which already had some local businesses when it welcomed Haveli Indian Grill & Cuisine last summer. That was followed later in the year by the openings of Holtman’s Donuts and Matt the Miller’s Tavern in newly constructed space. Skally’s, a new restaurant with Cincinnati ownership, is set to open in the shopping center next month.

“The developments of the future are not anchored anymore by department store or large retailers,” said Josh Rothstein, a retail specialist whose OnSite Retail Group signed the latter three tenants to the shopping center. “Instead, they’re anchored by environments. What’s giving you an experience? What’s giving you an excuse to get off your butt and go get something special.

Local businesses offer something unique that cannot be obtained at “every other interstate exit,” Rothstein said.

“People are looking for something that’s Instagram-worthy that allows them to go to a place that’s sought after, that has great food, awesome atmosphere and is a fun experience in and of itself,” he said. “You don’t get that from national chains. They’re designed for quantity and efficiency as opposed to being designed in a unique way that will offer something different every time you go.”

Also along Interstate 75 in Butler County, Liberty Center, the $350 million mixed-used center in Liberty Twp., is stocked with nearly 20 local and regional operators representing some 50,000 square feet of space, according to Beau Arnason, executive vice president of Steiner + Associates, the center’s developer.

Bee U Retail & Consignment shop is located in Bridgewater Falls near the roundabout. (NICK GRAHAM/STAFF)

Those businesses include everything from restaurants like Northstar Café and Deg’s Flame Grilled Chicken and night time hotspot The Roosevelt Room to stores like Rose & Remington, Burlap & Birch, Rookwood Pottery, S’mari, Jake’s Toggery, Occasionally Yours, Aveda Pure Concept, Celebrate Local, Hannoush Jewelers and Homage.

“Liberty Center curates its tenant mix to deliver a unique experience for guests and that requires a blend of talented local/regional operators along with national brands,” Arnason said. “Our customers appreciate that they can support local merchants and also access popular national brand offerings all at a single center.”

Cincinnati Premium Outlets in Monroe recently introduced two traditional, mom-and-pop retailers: Occasionally Yours, which was founded in Dayton in 1982, opened at the outlet mall in May offering gifts, handbags, fashion, jewelry and women’s accessories. Brenda’s Crafts, which offers primitive and country home décor as well as gifts, crafts and creations by a staff of local artisans and decorators, opened this month.

The two businesses were added to the center’s roster of more than 100 retailers to further emphasize Cincinnati Premium Outlets’ dedication to providing shoppers with “significant value and an unparalleled shopping experience,” according to Mary Ann Mattscheck, Cincinnati Premium Outlet’s general manager.

“Cincinnati Premium Outlets is committed to providing the community with the most sought-after retail selection they won’t find anywhere else,” Mattscheck told this news outlet.

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