Many reports about the retail industry have a similar message these days: Shopping centers are struggling, longtime brands are folding and stores are going out of business. But the current climate is actually one of the reasons West County Center stands out, according to marketing director Sean Phillips. Because of its central location off I-270, variety of popular stores and visible role as a community partner, the shopping destination is bucking industry trends and looking toward a bright future, he says.
West County Center has a reputation for embracing the region’s philanthropic efforts. Phillips and his staff believe that retail success isn’t just founded on buying and selling goods; it’s about being a caring member of the community. Each month, proceeds from special events and promotions support a different local nonprofit or cause. The mall also draws consumers in with innovative shopping experiences. This season, its theme is ‘Beauti-Fall,’ encompassing everything from eye-catching clothing and accessories to entertaining events. There’s always something new and different going on, and that sense of freshness is as appealing to retailers as it is to consumers, Phillips says. Brian Smith, director of retail operations for the K. Hall Designs home and body products company, is launching a 1,200-square-foot pop-up shop near Nordstrom and says he has high expectations. “We looked at retail areas around St. Louis and decided this would be a good opportunity for us,” he says. “It’s a great location, and there will be a lot of foot traffic close to the department store. This is perfect timing for fall gift shopping, too.” Smith says the company may consider making the store permanent if future plans allow.
Phillips says there are a number of other new retailers, and several more have made additions and improvements. Rachel’s Best Soaps and CBD American Shaman are now open and selling personal care products, and new clothing and accessory stores include Camille la Vie and Macy’s Backstage. Lululemon recently expanded, and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and Hollister have been completely remodeled. Bath & Body Works also has been renovated and is adding a White Barn Candle store-within-a-store, and Nordstrom recently introduced Charlotte Tilbury beauty products. For added convenience, shoppers now can enjoy free Wi-Fi.
West County Center has plenty for the younger set, too. One of its most attractive options is Sweet & Sassy, a spa, salon and party destination for kids. It’s been a fixture in the mall for a decade, and owner Jen LoGrasso says the location has provided a major boost to her business. “We are one of the few Sweet & Sassy franchises located in a mall, and we are consistently the top-selling store,” she says. “The high foot traffic is a main reason for our success.” Kids can come in for haircuts and styling, manicures, pedicures, makeovers, special events and other fun experiences. There is a stage with a disco ball for dress-up fashion shows, and a hot pink stretch limousine delivers party guests to the store in style. This autumn, the shop is holding themed activities related to the JoJo Siwa concert at Chaifetz Arena and the latest sequels to Disney’s Descendants and Frozen movies. “We also have new merchandise for fall, including spa wraps and princess dresses,” LoGrasso says. “We try to carry fun items you won’t find elsewhere.”
Phillips says that while the retail industry has its ups and downs, it also is flexible, innovative and resilient. “Whenever one door closes, a window opens, creating opportunities for other retailers,” he says. “A lot of chains are thriving and growing, and West County Center is proud to be part of that.”
West County Center welcomes fall with a variety of exciting shopping and dining experiences. Pictured on the cover: Julia Williford, Sheri Tillman, Jen LoGrasso and Tracy Rogers with the Sweet & Sassy party limousine. For more information, visit shopwestcountycenter.com.
Cover design by Julie Streiler | Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography
Pictured at top: Rachel’s Best Soaps is now open on Level 1.