The number of small, independently owned stores has been growing in malls and shopping centers on Long Island as landlords seek to fill shop spaces and diversify the tenant mix.
Since the recession that ended in 2009, large retailers and chains have been slowing their expansion and in some cases reducing the number of their stores, landlords and retail experts say. As a result, landlords of malls and shopping centers have been open to renting out spaces to mom-and-pop shops that would otherwise have gone to national retailers.
“It is supply and demand,” said Jayson Siano, managing principal of Garden City-based Sabre Real Estate Group, which specializes in commercial properties. “If landlords can’t find a national tenant, bank or a franchisee to take the space, they have to take other uses into consideration that may have been less exciting than if they had their choice.”
But landlords of malls and shopping centers look to lease to specialty restaurants, hair salons, nail salons, dry cleaners and other businesses that cannot be easily replaced by the Internet. Moreover, small businesses can provide distinct services and offer the personal attention to customers that most big-box retailers lack.
“Having that mix of large and small tenants really gives you that overall unique experience that you don’t find anywhere else,” said Jesse Tron, spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers, a Manhattan-based global trade association. “Small mom-and-pops are more localized, so they are reflective of the demographic of their community.”
Getting a piece of the heavy foot traffic at malls can make a big difference for small businesses, owners say.