Workers pour concrete on Wednesday at the future site of a new rue21 store at the University Mall in Brookings. The store will open in November. Photo by Jill Fier/Brookings
• New University Mall tenant plans November opening
BROOKINGS – Another national retailer is coming to Brookings before the end of the year, owners of the University Mall announced this week.
Rue21, a discount retailer of young men’s and women’s casual apparel and accessories, will open in a new stand-alone, single-tenant building at the local shopping center.
Construction of the 5,000-square-foot structure along 22nd Avenue South started about two weeks ago. The new building is on the east side of the mall property, and the rue21 entrance will face the west, directly across from Karl’s TV & Appliance and Maurices.
The new store will open for business in November, said University Mall owner Craig Kreyger. It’s being built by Kreyger’s Vision Developers with the help of subcontractors.
Rue21 has approximately 770 stores, and Kreyger said the Pennsylvania-based corporation is in a rapid expansion mode. South Dakota stores are already located in Watertown and Sioux Falls, the company’s website says, and another is soon to open in Rapid City.
Kreyger said he thinks rue21 will complement the stores already at the mall, generating more business and more traffic at the shopping center overall.
“There were lots of things I could have put there, but the mall is too small to be everything to everybody. So I tried to make it a destination, and I waited and looked for a clothing store that fit. The fact that there are four places that you could shop for teenagers here helps all of (the businesses).”
Kreyger noted that the economy in South Dakota and in Brookings is great compared to the rest of the United States. He has a positive outlook for the business community here.
“There’s not a negative thing you can say about the economy in Brookings, the future outlook for Brookings, the college. You add all those things together, and, yes, people are interested in locating in Brookings.”
The mall owner said he feels the city still has a lack of retail businesses, and attracting more stores can save local shoppers some gas and help capture dollars that “leak” to business in other cities, like Sioux Falls. That, in turn, keeps sales tax revenue in town.
Also, as more retailers come to town, Kreyger believes others become comfortable locating here.
“If I get this business, it helps bring another one to town. Not all businesses want to be located at the University Mall. … But the more we get in this town, whether it’s here or at a strip mall over on the other end of town, it helps our city, because businesses draw more businesses. People want to do business where other people are doing business – it’s a snowball effect.”
Brandt Kreyger, son of the mall’s owner, credited Al Heuton and Ryan Brunner of the Brookings Economic Development Corporation for helping bring the new store to town. “They worked with Lloyd Realty, who was the broker on this deal. The brokers came to town, visited with BEDC, and BEDC showed them prospective sites.”
The new rue21 building will be the last stand-alone structure added to the mall.
The owner has been “demalling” the mall since 2005, when both Lewis Drug and Sanford Health Brookings Clinic located there. Besides remodeling the original 1970s mall to close off the interior hallway and give each business its own front entrance, since 2007 the owner has put up several stand-alone, multi-tenant buildings on the property along 22nd Avenue South. New landscaping also helped change the look of the property.
Kreyger said it’s an industry trend in smaller cities and in shopping centers the size of University Mall to move to the strip-mall design. Shoppers want quick, close access to the specific stores they need to visit. The design also gives businesses their own independence in setting store hours.
The transformation has been a success, Kreyger says, and now only two spaces on the entire property remain available for lease. Between Sanford and Dollar Tree is up to 25,000 square feet of space, and next to Zesto Drive-In is another space with 1,700 square feet.
Contact Jill Fier at email@example.com.