Face it - America is overbuilt with shopping malls. The internet and how the way we shop has changed has really impacted malls in a bad way. According to The Wall Street Journal, with the popularity of online shopping affecting brick-and-mortar stores throughout the country. The mall vacancy rate for the year’s second quarter is 8.6% (from 8.4% in Q1), “as more consumers shifted their shopping online,” per the Journal. Retailers such as Bon Ton, Sears, J.C. Penney and Toys “R” Us have all announced closures this year. We don't need nearly the retail space that has been built already, but we continue to build more.
While this might be bad news for commercial property owners, it could be great news if you are looking to open an indoor golf facility. Mall operators want to lease space to things that will draw in customers so they can show foot traffic and get rents. Another ice cream shop or shoe store just doesn't have that unique cache that they are looking to add, but an indoor golf facility does.
As you are considering locations for your indoor golf facility, consider the mall. At one point, it was researched to be a desirable location, probably has good road access and even public transportation to it. With vacancies on the rise, you might be able to get a great deal on rent, but don't stop there.
Get creative on your ask. See if you can get some help with the build out, get them to do some advertising (remember, they want traffic too), ask for signage in other parts of the mall, see if they'll provide any utilities, provide any insurance coverages (so you don't have to), add a link to your website from theirs, get reserved customer parking spots, favorable payment terms, etc.
In the end, the mall may not be the right place for your indoor golf center, but it is worth checking out. Remember, they need businesses like yours to get folks to the mall, so they may be willing to get creative in ways that really help drive your success.
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