Lakeside Mall adds a new retailer and restaurant while another long-time tenant expands into an independent store on the property, the latest changes to Metairie Mall which have held up better than many other malls.
Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry is completing construction of a new 8,800 square foot location on an outdoor lot that previously housed a Red Lobster. The new store, which will open in October, comes as Habaneros, a North Coast-based Mexican restaurant, and Psycho Bunny, a national menswear retailer, plan to open outlets on the property later this fall. .
Habaneros moves into an outdoor plot of over 3,200 square feet overlooking Veterans Memorial Boulevard that was previously occupied by two restaurants, Chez Pierre and Poke World, both of which closed earlier this year.
Psycho Bunny will be located inside the mall in a space previously occupied by Brighton, a national jewelry and accessories chain. Lee Michaels’ former location inside the mall will become a vacation pop-up until January, when an as-yet-unnamed tenant is expected to take over the space.
In an era of online shopping when mall vacancy rates in the United States have increased, Lakeside has managed to keep almost all of its spaces filled with national or local tenants, according to Lakeside marketing manager Erin Graham, who said the mall is 98% occupied.
Part of the appeal is Lakeside’s status as a “super regional” mall, which means it has over 1 million square feet of retail space and draws shoppers from as far afield. only 75 miles. Super regional malls and newer properties with major national tenants typically outperform smaller, older properties, studies show.
The return of in-person shopping is also fueling activity as concerns about the pandemic fade. Even though online shopping has increased 55% during the pandemic and has quintupled over the past decade, retailers say e-commerce is not ready to completely supplant in-person shopping as customers often want to see and touch the goods before buying.
“People like to try on shoes or clothes and they enjoy the experience,” Graham said. “We believe there will always be a place for brick and mortar. It is a complement to online shopping.
“Bullish on Metairie”
Lee Michaels owner Chad Berg, whose father started the Baton Rouge-based chain in the 1980s, which has since expanded to nine locations in seven southern states, said customers’ desire to make in-person shopping was what drove the company’s decision to invest in the larger location.
Only about 15% of Lee Michaels’ sales come from the internet, though that percentage is growing, Berg said. He declined to say how much Lee Michaels is spending on building his new store, which will more than double his retail space in Lakeside, but says it will be the company’s most expensive yet.
“We have a lot of foot traffic in Lakeside and we’re very bullish on Metairie,” Berg said. “We think this is one of the best locations, at the intersection of Causeway and Veterans, on the market. We love this location and expect to stay here for a long time.”
The Royal Standard also performed well at Lakeside. The Baton Rouge-based retailer opened in a 1,000 square foot space in the mall in October 2021 and moved in August to a nearly 3,500 square foot space.
“We were surprised by the store’s performance,” said Mark Peirce, whose chain includes seven stores in the south. “We didn’t know what to expect from a mall and it was awesome.”
(Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the number of Lee Michaels locations.)