Valley View Mall’s pop-up shop spaces boost start-ups, improve mall outlook

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — It’s no secret that malls nationwide are struggling and are having to find ways to reinvent themselves. Valley View Mall in La Crosse has found success with pop-up shops for start-ups.

Valley View is seeing an increase in foot traffic after a difficult year, general manager Jeff Odom said.

“There’s something always going to be challenging, but it’s how you respond to those challenges,” Odom said. “From a mall standpoint, we’re always having to think outside of the box, be creative.”

The mall’s pop-up shop system is one way of doing that. Multiple spaces are available. Business owners can contact the mall office and have their shops open for a short amount of time — from just a weekend to months at a time.

“It fills up space, also provides customers an opportunity for shoppers to see products that you typically wouldn’t see in the mall,” Odom said.

It is also an opportunity for brands with a following to bring shoppers into the mall. Sam Schmitz, alongside other online retailers, is opening a pop-up clothing shop just for this weekend. He usually does sales online or holds pop-ups in his garage.

“I think that having an actual store in the mall, there’s going to be a lot more people that are comfortable coming in and shopping here,” Schmitz said.

Schmitz says he might come back.

“If it goes well we’re planning on doing one in less than a month. So hopefully it goes well—then you’ll see another one here,” he said.

Schmitz’s following and the regular Valley View mall traffic offer more foot traffic for everyone.

“It’s an opportunity to see what we can do and take advantage of the traffic we have here at the mall,” Odom said.

This isn’t the first time the mall has tried this model. Pop-Con, which put its roots in the mall 10 years ago, started small. Odom believes those recent successes won’t be the last.

“If you do it, and you work hard and do it right like that family has, it’s just a great opportunity,” Odom said. “It can be a small little seed that is nurtured and grows and becomes a very successful business to the community.”

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