Lakeside Shopping Center is adding a new retailer and restaurant while another longtime tenant expands to a freestanding store on the property, the latest changes at the Metairie mall that’s held up better than many other shopping centers.
Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry is completing construction on a new 8,800-square-foot location on an outparcel that was previously home to a Red Lobster. The new store, which will open in October, comes as Habaneros, a north shore-based Mexican Restaurant, and Psycho Bunny, a national menswear retailer, plan to open outlets at the property later this fall.
Habaneros is moving into a more-than 3,200-square-foot outparcel fronting 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. The former Lee Michaels spot inside the mall will become a holiday pop-up until January, when a yet-to-be-named tenant is expected to take over the space.
In an era of online shopping when mall vacancy rates across the U.S. have ticked higher, Lakeside has managed to keep nearly all of its spaces filled with national or local tenants, according to Lakeside marketing manager Erin Graham, who said the shopping center is 98% occupied.
Part of the draw is Lakeside’s status as a “super regional” mall, which means it has more than 1 million square feet of retail space and draws customers from as far as 75 miles away. Super regional malls and newer properties with major national tenants typically outperform smaller and older properties, studies show.
Also fueling activity is the return of in-person shopping as concerns about the pandemic wane. Even though online shopping grew 55% during the pandemic and increased five-fold over the past decade, retailers say e-commerce isn’t set to completely supplant in-person shopping because customers often want to see and touch merchandise before they buy.
“People like to try on shoes or clothes and they enjoy the experience,” Graham said. “We think 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 that has since grown to nine locations across seven southern states, said customers’ desire for in-person shopping is what motivated the company’s decision to invest in the bigger location.
Only about 15% of Lee Michaels’ sales come from online, though that percentage is growing, said Berg. He declined to say how much Lee Michaels is spending on the buildout of its new store, which will more than double its retail space at Lakeside, but says it will be the company’s most expensive to date.
“We have a lot of foot traffic at Lakeside and we are very bullish on Metairie,” Berg said. “We believe this is one of the best locations, at the intersection of Causeway and Veterans, in the market. We love this location and we expect to be here a long time.”
The Royal Standard also has done well at Lakeside. The Baton Rouge-based retailer opened in a 1,000-square-foot space in the mall in October 2021 and relocated in August to a nearly 3,500-square-foot space.
“We have been surprised by how well the store is performing,” said Mark Peirce, whose chain includes seven stores throughout the south. “We didn’t know what to expect in a mall and it’s been great.”
(Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify the number of Lee Michaels locations.)