Smaller retailers are at home in the mall

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FOR most independents, shopping malls are the enemy... all those high-street chains, global brands and major supermarkets go against everything the local independent stands for and is trying to achieve.

But for some astute “indies” shopping centres and malls present an opportunity to share in massive footfall, free parking and all the other benefits enjoyed by the majors.

Mall management, where floor space within the centre is rented out to smaller operators and independents who can set up their “stalls”, is the key to getting a prime spot without the overheads of running a shop. And for the centre it brings in extra rental and adds to the rich mix, interest and excitement customers expect from the shopping “experience”.

Michelle MacLeod, deputy centre manager at Ocean Terminal, says: “Of course, we’ve got all the high-street names – customers expect that of a big shopping mall. But customers can also become jaded with shopping centres that are too predictable and each looks the same as another.

“We try to be different. A lot of our permanent tenants are local retailers too as we see ourselves as part of the community. And at this time of the year especially, we have pop-up shops and stalls – most of them local entrepreneurs and craftspeople, some of whom are selling directly to the public for the first time. Over the years we’ve had jewellers, art galleries, threading, manicure, and artisan bakers. We’ve even had a pop-up zoo!

“For those toe-in-the-water retailers beginning a new business we can offer a warm, safe, controlled environment, guaranteed footfall, free entertainment, and the Edinburgh miracle of free parking.”