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Build-a-Bear is downsizing, Forever 21 expanding. Here’s what’s changing at the mall.

A treat and some liquid nitrogen for dessert

Snow Factory Roll Ice Cream recently opened in Fairview Heights. BND Reporter Cara Anthony and mall patrons try dragon's breath, a liquid nitrogen dessert, for the first time.
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Snow Factory Roll Ice Cream recently opened in Fairview Heights. BND Reporter Cara Anthony and mall patrons try dragon's breath, a liquid nitrogen dessert, for the first time.

By the time Black Friday rolls around this year, you might need a map to navigate St. Clair Square.

Some existing stores will be shuffled around the Fairview Heights shopping center to make room for new ones and the expansion of others. Even as one popular franchise downsizes, the mall remains healthy, said St. Clair Square Manager Michael Hagen.

According to Reis Inc., a business research firm, vacancy rates in U.S. malls rose to 8.6 percent in the first quarter of 2018. With just a few empty storefronts, St. Clair Square was 95 percent occupied as of the of end of 2017, Hagen said.

“A shopping mall really depends on the support of the community,” he said. “We are in a community that really shops their mall. “

Construction at the mall is underway and more is expected to begin in a few weeks. Here’s what you need to know about changes and additions:

Build-A-Bear to downsize

Build-A-Bear proved its popularity last week when its pay-your-age promotion packed malls, but that hasn’t stopped its previous plans to downsize in Fairview Heights. By the end of July, Build-A-Bear Workshop will move out of its storefront space at St. Clair Square and settle into a kiosk on the lower level of the mall. The move will give Victoria Secret’s PINK store room to expand, Hagen said.

Long lines wrap around the mall after Build-a-Bear announces a "pay your age" promotion.

PINK will gain 3,000 square feet when Build-A-Build moves downstairs at the end of the month. It’s not the first big change for the stuffed-toy chain.

The company added pop-up shops to its model years ago. This version of that model is new.

Vacating its storefront space in Fairview Heights comes 10 months after Build-A-Bear’s location at the St. Louis Zoo permanently closed.

H&M isn’t the only addition

L Brands, the parent company for Victoria’s Secret and PINK plans to open a third underwear and lingerie store in the mall this year.

La Senza is expected to open by September, giving shoppers a new place to explore a few months before Black Friday rolls around. Hagen describes the store as a lingerie shop that’s somewhere in between the old Frederick’s of Hollywood and Victoria’s Secret.

Its parent company describes the shop as its “famously sexy brand.” La Senza has 320 locations worldwide.

More moves, additions coming

Forever 21 will move out of its storefront space and into space previously occupied by New York and Company and The Limited. That change will double Forever 21’s size, Hagen said, allowing the store to bring in more lines and inventory.

Other additions include All Star Kutz and Zobra on the upper level. All Star Kutz will open soon near Dillard’s on the upper level. The old-school barbershop for boys and men will bring life back to the vacant storefront next to LensCrafters. In the food court, Zobra opened about a month ago. This vendor offers Mediterranean food and dishes from the Middle East.

Swedish clothing retailer H&M is expected to open next summer. The company, officially Hennes and Mauritz Inc., announced its plans last month.

Snow Factory Roll Ice Cream opened this spring at the mall. Located on the upper level of the mall near Auntie Anne’s Pretzels in the food court, Snow Factory Roll Ice Cream’s menu offers a variety of flavors and toppings.

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