Mall stores to expand, despite slowing sales

November 9, 2007 

While the owners of The Mall at Shelter Cove seek approval to add a 12-screen movie theater to increase slow shopping traffic, some retailers there are expanding their offerings, confident the shopping center will succeed despite the difficulties faced by some stores.

Belk, which has two of the three anchor spots in the Hilton Head Island mall, opened a Belk Kids store last week in a space just outside its women, jewelry and cosmetics store.

And Belk Women, which will carry the store's larger-sizedclothing, will open across from Belk Kids next week in a store previously occupied by Hallmark, said Ann McAninch, Belk store manager.

"Our business is great," McAninch said. "Moving these (product lines) out into those spaces allows us to give more breathing room in the existing spaces."

Even though Belk occupies about 70,000 of the mall's 274,000 square feet, Belk needed to add another 10,000 square feet because merchandise was overwhelming available space, McAninch said.

The two new stores are a temporary fix until Belk can find a permanent way to expand one of the anchor spaces, McAninch said.

Additionally, the owner of The Blue Parrot will open a new gift shop called Rain Lilly in the space formerly occupied by Crabtree & Evelyn, which closed recently, near the mall's main entrance.

Rain Lilly is likely to open Dec. 1, said Roni Allbritton, general manager of the mall.

Tom Jones, manager of The Blue Parrot, said the store's owner is "very optimistic about the mall."

Rain Lilly won't duplicate the gift offerings at The Blue Parrot, but the exact mix of merchandise hasn't been determined yet, Jones said.

In the center court, Avi Gueta has been a fixture demonstrating remote-controlled cars, helicopters and other vehicles since opening his Toy World kiosk in November 2006.

The kiosk, originally planned for the holiday season only, turned into a year-round success. This year, Gueta has opened another kiosk, called Wind Spinners.

The new site, which opened last Friday, sells spinning mobiles for use outdoors or indoors with the aid of a small motor pack, Gueta said.

Gueta, an island resident, had a toy kiosk at Oglethorpe Mall in Savannah, but has found the business better on the island.

"I love this mall," he said.

A Reader's Digest Outlet bookstore will also open soon for the holiday season. It will take the spot vacated by Bombay Company, which filed for bankruptcy in September and is closing all its U.S. stores. The bookstore will carry discount books with an emphasis on children's and educational books and cookbooks.

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