If you’re community even has a functioning shopping mall anymore, you’ve probably noticed once-bustling shops have gone out of business.
These increasingly vacated storefronts have created a huge headache for the companies that own and operate malls as they frantically look for new ways to fill the spaces and make money from leases.
A sport that combines elements of badminton, ping-pong, and tennis has taken the United States by storm in recent years, and it could be the saving grace for at least some of the malls in need of rescue.
Residents in some cities have complained about the noise and crowds of pickleball players in public parks, which has led to the need for dedicated spaces for people to play the game.
One novel solution involves opening up courts in malls.
In one Connecticut mall, for example, Pickleball America has leased a massive two-story location that was previously the home of a Saks Off 5th store. The 80,000-square-foot space will soon be one of the nation’s largest indoor pickleball courts.
Similar plans are underway elsewhere across the country, giving pickleball aficionados a place to play as well as amenities where they can eat, drink, and connect with other players off the court.
It’s not just pickleball. As prominent retailers scale back and close stores as a constant pace, mall owners are considering new ways to use the space. Here are a few current trends:
- Focusing on experiences — like arcades and amusement parks — instead of stores.
- Creating mixed-use spaces where businesses can establish offices alongside shops.
- Transforming vacant stores into hotels or even affordable housing units.
Kids in the ‘80s spent a lot of their time cruising the malls … but the next generation might be going there for completely different reasons.