November 26, 2020

Mall of America gives free space to businesses affected by pandemic, riots

The largest mall in the United States is opening a dedicated retail space to businesses encumbered by the pandemic and unprecedented civil unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

As a way to lift businesses from the upheaval and fill vacancy, Minneapolis’s Mall of America will donate free space to 17 local stores in the “Community Commons.”

As a temporary haven, Community Commons will serve as a means for the shops to resume business while they make future plans until spring of 2021. The small businesses will occupy a 5,000 square-foot space, filling the void from a previous tenant who closed down.

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The retail market within Mall of America will include a variety of stores ranging from apparel and accessories to food and beverage to personal care and family gifts. One of the stores relocating to the space, Urban 29, had a two year run before being decimated by the riots.

“Back in May, my storefront was destroyed in the riots,” store owner of Urban 29 Joyce Sanders told FOX Business’s Grady Trimble. “It was looted and set on fire. I lost everything.”

Sanders not only lost her inventory, but also the building that housed her store, as protestors set the property aflame. The damage put the clothing store owner out of work for four months until she found refuge at Community Commons.

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Now Sanders will have a shot at setting up shop at one of the world’s most coveted real estate for retail alongside 520 retail stores and restaurants.

The new space will also prop up the struggling mall as it looks to revitalize shuttered stores and curtailed foot traffic. After serious financial troubles from the retail industry dive, the mall was forced to lay off 200 employees.

“The Community Commons initiative is one of hope and possibility as Mall of America joins the efforts to help rebuild the hearts, minds and livelihoods of our diverse retail community,” EVP of Business Development and Marketing for Mall of America, Jill Renslow, said in a statement.  “We are proud to welcome these businesses to Mall of America where guests will be introduced to an even greater slice of what our retail community has to offer beyond the doors of Mall of America.”

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As the commercial real estate and retail industries search for lifelines to bring both businesses and customers back, Community Commons could become the new blueprint.

“This is a really great opportunity,” Sanders said. “I’m happy for Urban 29. I’m happy for the other businesses as well.”

Urban 29 at Community Commons 

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