Mall Owner Keeps The Lights On With Mom-And-Pop Stores

By James Briggs
The Indianapolis Star

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) At a time when shopping malls across the U.S. are struggling and dying, Washington Square Mall is staying afloat through an experiment of sorts. Mall owner Kohan Retail Investment Group has opened up the east-side shopping center to any entrepreneur who has a product to sell and a few hundred dollars to spend on rent.

The Indianapolis Star

If you are searching for “The Little Mermaid” on VHS videocassette with the original 1990 artwork, there is perhaps only one shopping center in Indianapolis to visit: Washington Square Mall.

A store called S&I Videos sells the tape — with a cover made famous because of an urban legend about a disgruntled Disney artist who wanted to send a message. The price tag is $10, lower than most copies you’ll find for sale online.

If an obscure copy of a Disney classic doesn’t seem like the type of thing you would expect to buy in a shopping mall, well, neither are VHS tapes or DVDs. Yet, that’s all you will find at S&I Videos, a store that was recruited from a flea market to Washington Square Mall with promises of cheap rent and occasional, if not quite steady, foot traffic.

At a time when shopping malls across the U.S. are struggling and dying, Washington Square Mall is staying afloat through an experiment of sorts.

Mall owner Kohan Retail Investment Group has opened up the east-side shopping center to any entrepreneur who has a product to sell and a few hundred dollars to spend on rent.

The result is a mall anchored by national chains Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods and sparsely filled in with mom-and-pop stores selling everything from $1,000 collectible sneakers to $2.50 DVDs.

The local tenants bring life to spaces in rows of otherwise vacant storefronts that are awaiting their next occupants.

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