Reporter: Mark Kelly l Videographer: Jemon Haskins
Lynchburg, VA - Several stores at River Ridge Mall in Lynchburg have sat empty for a while now. But recently they've been finding new owners.
In a short six month span, seven new stores have popped up in the mall. And, mall management says it's not just the holiday shopping behind that growth.
Management says Lynchburg retailers are experiencing the same upbeat retail trend the country's starting to feel. Now it's certainly not perfect yet, but new stores are on the rise. And, the new businesses coming in seem to be after a certain type of shopper.
The management at River Ridge Mall calls their shopping experience one for the whole family. The As Seen On TV store is brand new.
"We wanted to be in the mall," said Manager Tonya Armenti.
Armenti lines her shelves with toys for the kids and gadgets for adults.
"There's something for everybody in this store," said Armenti.
Armenti opened her doors three weeks ago. But, the trend isn't true of every story. Down the hall at Jewelry and Gems, Owner Sadia Ahmed has been at her kiosk more than three years. And not selling toys for kids and gadgets for adults, Ahmed's business has its slow days.
"We need more traffic. I really think so. We need to do something to bring in more traffic," said Ahmed.
The economy's tarnished Ahmed's luxury jewelry business. But, she says, one solution is for the mall to attract stores with well-known names.
"Maybe change something in the mall as well. Maybe we need to bring stores like maybe some branded stores, where more people like to shop," said Ahmed.
Caitlin McTigue misses branded stores where college students shop.
"They use to have Forever 21, which is our favorite store. I feel like there could be some better stores, especially with all the college students around," said McTigue.
But, a stroll through River Ridge shows stores for college students is just not the trend. As Bounce About, a play place for kids opening soon, shows malls are looking to make shopping a family affair.
People like these college students. Mall management says the Lynchburg market is attractive to retailers. With four anchor stores, a brand new theatre and a diverse economy, they say the traditional indoor mall is here to stay.