By Sarah Robinson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Mall at Barnes Crossing ushered in its 23rd year by welcoming new tenants this month, and more are on their way, officials said.
Despite recent national reports that show meager spending and gloomy consumer sentiment, mall general manager Jeff Snyder said sales at the mall were up 4 percent in 2012. He said the strong sales history makes the regional mall – which opened in 1990 – attractive to national retailers.
According to Snyder, 13.8 million people visited the mall last year. Retailers may spend years studying a location’s sales data before deciding to open a store. That Barnes Crossing has never experienced negative growth in either income or traffic is a strong selling point to potential tenants.
This weekend, the third new tenant in just the last two weeks is slated to open.
Francesca’s, a national retail chain for women’s clothing, is scheduled to open Saturday. The store was originally going to open sooner but has was forced to delay. Employees at the store declined to comment.
Another new retailer specializing in women’s wear opened March 8. Chico’s moved into the space formerly occupied by the Gap, which moved to a shopping center just outside the mall a few weeks earlier.
Chico’s is a large, national retailer with more than 600 boutiques nationwide. The parent company also owns popular labels White House Black Market, Soma and Boston Proper.
Erin Wallace, general manager of the brand’s Germantown store, was in Tupelo to help with the opening. She said the retailer will be “a great fit here” in Northeast Mississippi. The store opened Friday and according to the Tupelo manager Melissa Shaul, the public has been receptive to the new business.
“So far, so good,” she said.
Moe Hamoud, owner of Pizza Pro and co-owner of Tutti Fruitti, opened Krispy Krunchy Chicken, a franchise fast food chicken restaurant in the food court.
“I think we’ve upped the profile with the addition of Chico’s and Francesca’s … that’s what we’ll continue to do,” said Philip Purdom. Purdom serves as the senior vice president of mall leasing for David Hocker and Associates, one of the development companies that owns the mall.
He said the company “has a lot in the works right now” and that proposals have been made to a number of additional retailers. Purdom said new additions should be announced by May.