Pop-up shops filling empty storefronts across the U.S.

The holiday season is usually the time for pop-up shops at the mall, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we're starting to see them all year-round.

My Cookie Dealer, known for its half-pound delicacies offered in a variety of unique flavors, has expanded. Now instead of just shipping and delivering orders, owners Karen and Juan are selling the cookies and other savory treats out of a storefront. They’re one of the newest temporary tenants to join Tanger Outlets Center in Riverhead.

"We love it here," said owner Karen Morel. "We love our customers here."

The retail sector, specifically brick and mortar stores was one of the most impacted by the pandemic. As a way to boost business, some malls and outlet centers across Long Island are offering retailers cheaper rents and flexible lease terms. Several pop-ups including Bloomingdale’s and DICK’s Warehouse are filling the vacancies.

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"It’s a great opportunity for both the businesses and the tenants to find their place in a new shopping environment and great for the landlord to find a new business stream," said Lesley Anthony with Tanger Outlets Center in Riverhead. 

Business experts believe filling storefronts is a positive sign for the future of the economy.

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"It’s a win for the online retailer who is now getting more exposure and more customers because they have a spot and it’s also a win for the entire shopping center or the mall," said Kyle Strober with Association for A Better Long Island. 

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According to the National Retail Federation or NRF, retail sales grew close to 7-percent in 2020, well above the five-year average. NRF predicts that sales will grow between 10 and 13.5-percent to more than $4 trillion in 2021.

"This so happened to already had great features we already liked," Morel said. "Foot traffic, refrigeration. We said we could turn this around and get out there and we did it." 

It’s been so good they’ve already extended their lease past the planned September date. A trend malls and centers are hoping to see across the board.