Gordmans, the Omaha-based value retailer, has moved into Edina’s Southdale Center, the latest sign of recovery for the nation’s first indoor mall.
The new store is Gordmans’ fifth in Minnesota, after Woodbury, Burnsville, Roseville and Mankato.
“It’s more than I expected,” said Laurel Johnson of Edina, who shopped at the store on opening day last week. “It looks like they have [a] more consistent selection than Marshalls or T.J. Maxx, and the prices are just as good.”
Many shoppers aren’t as familiar with Gordmans as other stores because it keeps a lower marketing profile.
“People know they’re getting low prices everyday so they don’t need to promote or advertise,” said Dave Brennan, co-director of the University of St. Thomas Institute for Retailing Excellence. “They don’t have high prices and then mark them down 25 or 30 percent.”
Gordmans’ focus in apparel and shoes is on brand names such as Adidas, Puma, Guess, Roxy and Skechers. A large part of the stores is taken up with home furnishings.
“Home fashion decor is a strength,” said Jason Baker, district manager at Gordmans. “We don’t have larger furniture in Edina like at other locations, but we have dorm furniture.”
The store moved into a 45,000-square-foot, lower-level space in Southdale that has been vacant since 2013 when Marshalls left for a strip mall about 2 miles away along Interstate 494.
The recruitment of Gordmans, which will employ about 120 people, is another example of the makeover of Southdale after Simon Property Group purchased it in 2007. For several years after that, Southdale grappled with the effects of the economic downturn and limped along with a vacancy rate that was about three times higher than the average of other malls in the Twin Cities.
Indianapolis-based Simon, the nation’s largest owner of malls, in 2011 attracted Herberger’s to an anchor spot and then began a remodeling that added a food court, removed some walls to open up more space and made other cosmetic changes.
“The mall is making a strong recovery after the remodeling,” said Dick Grones, a local retail broker with Cambridge Commercial Realty. “Gordmans is a good fit for Southdale. No one else is doing what they do there.”
Last year, Simon began seeking revenue from its sprawling parking lot by partnering with a developer and building luxury apartments on one corner.
“The parking lot was always way too large,” said Minneapolis retail consultant Jim McComb. “It was left over from an era when developers didn’t know how much parking space a shopping center needed.”
Coming next is a Dave & Buster’s restaurant, bar and game center, which will open on the third floor of the mall at the end of the month.
Another restaurant, not yet identified publicly, will be built in the little-used southwest corner of the mall’s parking lot, near the water tower.