Vendors fill Central Mall, encouraging shoppers to spend locally

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FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA) — A local mall is trying a unique approach to get shoppers off the internet and back into stores.

A report from Credit Suisse predicts up to a quarter of malls in the U.S. will close by 2022.

Small businesses in Fort Smith are getting the chance to test out the brick and mortar setting.

Central mall is the River Valley’s largest shopping center.

Over 30 vendors have the opportunity to sell products to a larger audience on the center court, as part of it’s Valentine’s Day Extravaganza.

Dates: February 13 – 16. 2020

Hours: 10 AM to 9 PM

No Admission

It’s just one more way to get people through the door and to shop local.

“It’s like, I made this and you enjoy it — and that just thrills me,” said Gail Johnson, the Owner of Johnson Jelly Jams and Junk.

Raymond Limbrick, Owner of GTN Promotions, organized the craft fair. He says while the mall is not as popular as it once was, the customer base is still here.

“What they’re doing is trying to build their brand, build their product. It’s a way for them growing their business without the huge capital it takes to open up a national chain,” Limbrick said. “It used to be the cost to come into a mall was so astronomical that most small vendors or mom or pop-type businesses couldn’t afford it. It is affordable, they can do it. I give them the opportunity to come into the mall, see the revenue, get an idea on the customer base and give them the decision to open up a kiosk or store.”

The Northwest Arkansas Mall is also looking to compete for shoppers.

Office and pop up retail spaces will open in the mall this summer to increase foot traffic

“As a retailer you have to find your niche,” Limbrick said. “I like giving other people that are younger than I the opportunity to explore and say yes, this is possible.”

He says events like this are not only good for sales, but for the community.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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