Just a few weeks ago, shoppers walking down a corridor of the Glendale Galleria might have noticed a decidedly downscale store that sold sports caps.
Today, the same space is home to Lush, a trendy British beauty boutique that's new to the United States. Another addition, Michael Kors, is opening at the end of the month. And more tony retailers may be coming.
There will be a lot of changes occurring at the Glendale Galleria and for good reason: The traditional sprawling indoor mall faces mighty competition from the new Americana at Brand, the shopping-entertainment-residential complex right next to it.
As the staid fixture reacts to the brash newcomer, General Growth Properties Inc., the Galleria's owner, will have both challenges and opportunities.
One challenge will be to avoid losing customers to the glamour and glitz of the Americana. But its opportunity will be to showcase itself to the big audience drawn by the Americana spectacle.
Indeed, some believe that Caruso Affiliated Holdings LLC's Americana may provide just the boost the Galleria needs.
"Americana at Brand could be good for the Glendale Galleria," said Steven Burt with the Bedford Group, an L.A.-based urban developer about to launch a mixed-use project in Baldwin Hills. "Examples of symbiosis between adjacent retail developments that feed off the collective consumer traffic are numerous."
The Galleria's current strategy is similar to Americana's: Both aim to bring one-of-a-kind, luxury retailers to Glendale.
"Our focus is finding, keeping and bringing to the shopping center retailers that cannot be found anywhere else whether it's the first in the world or in California, and that's what drives people here," said Janet LaFevre, the Galleria's senior marketing director. The Galleria's previous firsts were the Disney Store and the Apple Store.
"We are talking with retailers who are interested in entering the California market for the very first time," LaFevre said. "We have some around the corner to announce."
Also in the works for the Galleria: Plans to create a bigger shopping hub for Generation Y, according to LaFevre.
Brandi Halls, Lush's U.S. public relations manager, said the mall was a prime choice for one of the retailer's rare outposts.
Lush sells soaps, lotions and shampoos piled high on wooden tables and tubs. The chain has only a handful of stores in California and saw an opportunity at the Galleria.
"The property is truly a powerhouse as far as shopping destinations go in the Los Angeles area," Halls said. "The mall is centrally located and places Lush alongside big recognizable brands Williams-Sonoma, Ann Taylor and Banana Republic."
Lush replaced the outdated Lids store a sports hat shop which, like Baby Gap, moved to a less visible location.
The Galleria scored a coup when the nation's first three-level Target opened last year. Now, shoppers can do everything at the Galleria from picking up a prescription to purchasing a Prada bag at Nordstrom's.
Likewise, Americana included a Rite-Aid to fulfill the same purpose, which is to allow shoppers the convenience of picking up practical items along with their higher-end department store or boutique purchases.
Philip Lanzafame, Glendale's development director, said that the proximity of the two malls will be good for both of them and the city.
"With the addition of the Americana at Brand, Glendale will become a regional draw and pull a larger demographic," Lanzafame said. "And the Galleria is looking to meet the needs of the larger demographic coming to Glendale."
That wasn't General Growth's original point of view. After the city approved Americana at Brand, Chicago, IL-based General Growth, the nation's second-largest mall operator, financed a referendum opposing the project and lost. It also filed two unsuccessful lawsuits to block the Americana. Caruso countersued claiming antitrust violations and unfair competition and was awarded $89 million in damages. General Growth is appealing that verdict.
Even though several believe that Americana will be good for the Galleria, Americana's opening means that the Galleria will have to play smart and keep making changes to keep up.
"The Galleria will have to maintain a comparable and complementary mix of retail, facilitate access between projects and enhance its aesthetic, lifestyle and destination points," said Burt.
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