The Galleria in Edina is experiencing a spate of retail closures and turnovers it hasn't seen for some time.

Creative Kidstuff announced this week that it is closing all six Twin Cities area stores, including one in the Galleria. The stores are expected to close by the end of June. All items are marked down 25 percent.

Last month, furniture retailer Z Gallerie, based in Los Angeles, announced that it is shuttering 17 of its 76 stores, including the one in the Galleria. The 7,000-square-foot showroom opened only a year ago as part of the expansion that includes Cov restaurant, Soft Surroundings and a relocated Starbucks. It is expected to close this month and a liquidation sale is underway.

Scheherazade Jewelers closed abruptly a few weeks ago after filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Scandia Down fine linens closed in December and Oh Baby! moved to 50th and France after closing in the Galleria in February. Both are locally owned.

Another local store, Gabberts furniture, will exit the center in mid- to late 2020. A new Gabberts store, along with a HOM store and a Dock 86, will open in the former HOM location in Bloomington late next year. Gabberts was purchased by brothers Rod and Wayne Johansen, owners of HOM, in 2008.

Restoration Hardware will also exit the Galleria this year for a new mansion-like, free-standing store taking shape across the street in Southdale Center's parking lot. It may open as soon as fall 2019, but RH's lease in the Galleria is through the end of the year.

The turnover is especially unusual for the Galleria, the best revenue-producing mall in the region. It generates annual sales in excess of $800 a square foot, Dick Grones of Cambridge Commercial Realty in Edina estimates.

Jim McComb, a Minneapolis-based retail consultant, said the Galleria has never had difficulty finding retail tenants for its vacancies.

"There could be some retailers already lining up who've been waiting for the right space," he said. "With Hines as the owner, they have the financial wherewithal to make deals. The Galleria seems to be better at picking off high-end tenants than Mall of America."

Wendy Eisenberg, general manager at the Galleria, said in a statement that discussions are well underway with potential new occupants. She said the Galleria continues to look for local retailers and restaurants for new spaces.

In just the past six months, several new stores have opened, including Grande Gallery, Peloton high-tech fitness equipment and a full-service skin care salon called Face Foundry. Johnny Was bohemian fashions for women will take the Tumi space in the fall. Tumi will move to a newly created space.

John Ewoldt

Mall of America, Nickelodeon Universe get autism designation

The Mall of America and its Nickelodeon Universe theme park have been named as a certified autism center, the first destination in Minnesota to achieve the designation, according to the mall.

The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, or IBCCES, required that at least 80 percent of guest-facing staff at the mall and its 7-acre amusement park complete the organization's sensitivity and awareness training.

The Bloomington mall, the nation's largest, was required to take steps to make the area more accessible for those with autism and to provide sensory guides for each ride.

IBCCES is considered an industry leader in autism training for licensed health care professionals and educators around the globe.

Because families with children who have special needs often have limited travel options, the organization designed training and certification programs specifically for the hospitality and travel industry.

"Our goal is to ensure families with children on the spectrum have the same opportunities to experience attractions and new destinations as anyone else," Myron Pincomb, IBCCES board chairman, said in a statement. "Our certified autism center designation is awarded to industry leaders who are paving the way to make sure they are welcoming these individuals and are choosing to complete a third-party, evidence-based process to ensure they are prepared."

Jill Renslow, the Mall of America's senior vice president of business development, said the certification process now ensures that employees have "the knowledge and skills to communicate and assist those with sensory sensitivities in the most positive and effective way."

A list of certified destinations and other family resources is available at autismtravel.com.

JACKIE CROSBY