WSJ.com - As Malls Think Small, Boutiques Get Big Chance (subscription required)
America's megamalls, built in the 1970s to showcase big department stores and national specialty chains, have begun to embrace the little guys, a new crop of quirky independent fashion boutiques. As sales at their department-store anchors continue to sag, malls seeking to diversify and increase traffic have been courting these trendy start-ups, which offer intimate service and carefully edited collections from a variety of high-end designers. Some properties even offer leasing and marketing incentives to lure boutiques and the style-savvy clientele that follows them....
In an effort to lure shoppers ... General Growth Properties Inc., which owns and operates 209 malls in 44 states, is pushing temporary leasing programs that encourage new concepts, allowing merchants to test the retail waters by starting off with a three- to six-month lease on a booth or small store of around 2,000 square feet.
"Retail is about change, and if you don't bring in something unique, you're going to miss the boat," says Bob Michaels, president and chief operating officer of General Growth. He says the boutique trend has taken off over the past 12 to 15 months.