The Westmoreland Mall continues to see an uptick in business after the 2020 opening of a casino at the Hempfield complex.
Two new stores: Kadiskicks, a locally owned sneaker store, and Daily Thread, a women’s clothing store, soon will be opening at the shopping center, according to the mall’s website.
The announcement comes during a time when the shopping center has had apparent success in attracting new businesses — something officials attribute to the opening of Live! Casino Pittsburgh — after several years of store closures.
By the end of 2021, the mall had a 94% occupancy rate, said Stacey Keating, spokeswoman for Chattanooga, Tenn.-based CBL Properties, the entity that owns Westmoreland and Monroeville malls.
According to data provided by Keating, the number of businesses at the mall has fluctuated over the past decade, with a dip recorded in 2018.
That year, occupancy hovered about 91%. By April 2018, Bon-Ton announced its closure.
Another anchor store, Sears, shuttered in 2019, spurring a flurry of closures or relocations that plagued the mall for most of that year. Those included Payless Shoes, Gymboree, Helzberg Diamonds, Verizon Wireless, Sleep Number, New York & Company, PacSun and Kitchen Collection.
Malls across the country began feeling similar impacts.
The vacancy rate for regional malls in the U.S. hit a record 11% during the first quarter of 2021, according to Moody’s Analytics’ commercial real estate division.
Green Street, a real estate analytics firm, said last year, of the 1,000 U.S. malls it tracks, there are about 750 vacant anchor spaces that formerly were home to major chains.
At Westmoreland Mall, however, the turning point seemingly occurred after the casino opened in November 2020 at the former Bon-Ton location.
The next year, the announcement of new stores became a common occurrence, starting with SpectroDolce Confectionery, Western Edge Seafood and Joseph Jacob Jewelers. Charlotte Russe, Lids and Christopher & Banks all reopened at the mall after previously closing.
“The casino, without a doubt, has been a … contributing factor,” Keating said.
Last year, traffic recorded at the mall increased 30% over 2019. Data was not provided for 2020, when the facility shuttered for months because of the covid-19 pandemic.
Traffic increases have continued throughout this year, up 14% by April, Keating said.
Now, Kadiskicks is set to open this weekend on the second floor of the Macy’s wing. The resale store, owned by Jake Kadagishvili, will feature high-end sneakers.
Kadagishvili, 23, of Greensburg started reselling sneakers online about two and a half years ago. About a year into it, he decided he wanted to own a store.
“I was going to school and didn’t know what to do. … I just picked it up, and it just snowballed from there,” Kadagishvili said.
He is hopeful opening a store at the mall will allow him to gain exposure while informing people of his brand.
Kadagishvili is hosting a grand opening from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday.
“Honestly, it’s like a dream come true,” he said. “It’s surreal.”
Minnesota-based Daily Thread, whose parent company is NYC Alliance, will open on the first floor of the former Sears wing.
The women’s clothing store, which opened its first location last year, has several storefronts across the country. According to the company’s Instagram page, Daily Thread soon will open in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indianapolis, Nebraska and North Dakota, in addition to the Westmoreland Mall location.
The company is planning to open 67 stores by the end of the year. An additional 200 locations will be opened by the end of 2023, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reported.
It was not immediately clear when the Hempfield location will open.
The new stores will join Charlotte Russe and Lids, which opened in March. Both previously occupied storefronts at the mall. Last year, the shopping center saw a slew of new businesses, including Rock Bottom jewelry store, SpectroDolce Confectionery, Western Edge Seafood and Joseph Jacob Jewelers.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .