What’s new at Eastridge Mall?


COVID-19 and the shift from the retail industry to serving customers online has sent some popular brands out of the Eastridge Mall in Gastonia, but local businesses aren’t necessarily shying away from the mall.

The Eastridge Mall has lost big names in recent years, such as Victoria’s Secret, New York and Co. Some stores simply did not reopen or renew a lease with the mall after major closures in the pandemic ended. COVID-19.

Some national retailers, including Belk, American Eagle Outfitters, Bath and Body Works, Journeys and others, remain in the mall.

However, Eastridge Mall continues to be a place of commerce, especially for local entrepreneurs, who see the mall as a great opportunity to keep their business going.

Woo’s Too Boutique

Kristy Granados is no stranger to the mall, or running a business that sells popular brands.

Granados moved his business, Woo’s Too Boutique, to the mall almost five years ago, selling screen-printed shirts from brands like Greensboro-based Simply Southern.

“We’re focusing on the southern vibe on screen-printed clothing,” Granados said Thursday morning, just before receiving 800 pounds of Simply Southern products.

These days, Woo’s Too operates in a cramped 1,200 square foot space on the top floor of the mall, which many may remember as the old Things Remembered store. But Granados plans to move into the neighboring 3,800-square-foot space, formerly occupied by El Catrin Western Wear, which has moved elsewhere in the mall.

Kristy Granados, owner of Woo's Too Boutique, stands inside her store expansion Thursday morning, July 22, 2021, at Eastridge Mall.

“We’re tripling the space,” said Granados, who plans to bring back other Gaston County favorites like Southern Couture and Sassy Frass, as well as add new products, on the go next door.

She also plans to designate a section of the store for modern and one-off styles.

“Things are going to happen and it will be a unique race,” she said. “This side will continually change.”

And for those who don’t make it to the Gastonia Mall, Woo’s Too sells products online at https://www.woostooboutique.com. Doing business online has been a critical part of maintaining customer relationships, especially during the pandemic.

“We’ve worked hard to move from the brick and mortar mindset to really chasing the customer online,” she said. “It allowed us to grow and take on new brands. ”

Antiques and estates

Gaston County and the Carolinas don’t seem to have enough antique stores, says Gloria Kimbrell, who opened Antiques and Estates at Eastridge Mall with Curtis Cochran just two weeks ago.

There, shoppers will find anything and everything vintage, including signs, toys, furniture, lighting fixtures, vinyl records, and clothing – some of which have hyper-local ties.

Gloria Kimbrell poses in her boutique, Antiques at Eastridge, Thursday morning July 22, 2021, at Eastridge Mall.

Kimbrell, who also runs The Mad Hatter’s Antique Shop on Main Avenue in Gastonia, had planned to move into the mall before COVID-19 was an imminent threat.

Even after the major economic impacts of the pandemic, Kimbrell was sure Eastridge Mall was the right place to sell antiques.

“We just thought it would work, and it was really quick,” she said. Antiques and Estates will have an annex on the top floor later this year.

“If we’re going to buy an entire domain, it will be upgraded and there will be sales once or twice a month.

Inside Antiques at Eastridge Thursday morning, July 22, 2021, at Eastridge Mall.

So far, customers have come from as far away as Blacksburg, SC and Monroe, just to shop for antique collectibles in the mall.

Those walking through the mall can expect to see themed shows hosted by Antiques and Estates on the mall’s center court. Depending on the theme of the show, customers will find either products from local artisans and craftspeople or antique shops.

The next Antiques and Estates show will be held during store opening hours on August 21.

Western Clothing El Catrin

Retailers that close or move into the mall often set off a chain reaction of other storefront moves.

The closure of Victoria’s Secret prompted Pedro Dinarte, owner of El Catrin Western Wear, to move his store downstairs. USA Today reported that Victoria’s Secret has permanently closed nearly 250 stores in 2020, with dozens of additional closings scheduled for 2021.

Now in a 6,200 square foot space near Belk, El Catrin, which opened in 2017, had no problem filling the store with a wide variety of southwest style boots and shoes, from horse hats, clothing and saddles.

Josseline Vega, who has worked at the store since February 2018, was still in high school when she landed a job at El Catrin.

Daniel Esquibel, Josseline Vega and Pedro Dinarte inside El Catrin Western Wear Thursday morning July 22, 2021, at Eastridge Shopping Center.

“It caught my attention. I thought it was all very artistic, ”Vega recalls of her first visit to the store.

“Mainly because they are handmade (boots) and made in Mexico. It takes a long time to make a pair of boots. The dedication they put into this product is very valuable to me.

The majority of El Catrin’s customers are Hispanics who live in Gaston County and often go to local rodeos, according to Vega, although mall rental manager Steve Stout was not shy about buying a new one. pair of moccasins that caught his eye on Thursday.

“The only reason is that they [Hispanic population] know the products better, especially since everything is made in Mexico.

Inside El Catrin Western Wear Thursday morning, July 22, 2021, at the Eastridge Mall.

“Whenever other people come in, they don’t know much about brands and therefore are very hesitant to buy. But once they try it, they always come back to the store.

Dinarte is also planning to open El Guanaco Express, a Salvadoran-style restaurant located in the former pizzeria of the mall’s food court.

Midnight moon

Marie Dabbs-Laughlin and Darrell Laws took the plunge to transform their online clothing business into a walk-in store in fall 2020, just before the Christmas shopping season.

Midnight Moon Boutique specializes in selling women’s clothing of all sizes, as well as footwear and many accessories, out of the space known to Hot Topic for many years.

Marie Dabbs and Darrell Laws are looking to expand their store, Midnight Moon, on Thursday morning, July 22, 2021, at Eastridge Mall.

Laws was preparing to move Midnight Moon to the central location once occupied by BlakeRyan, who moved into the mall after Hollister closed in 2016, on Thursday.

“We are expanding rapidly. It has worked really well since we moved here, ”said Laws, taking a break from the pink paint outside of Midnight Moon’s future home.

Midnight Moon’s move will quadruple the amount of space they currently work in, which Laws says will fit their clients better.

“With the mall expanding as it is and other businesses moving here, we’ve seen it pick up a lot since we’ve been here,” he said.

Honorable mentions

After:Ax throwing, laser tag coming to Eastridge Mall

  • Pi Records, originally located in downtown Cherryville, opened on the top floor of Eastridge Mall in November 2020. There customers will find record players, new vinyl, Funko Pop ! figurines, clothing and other music related items, as well as merchandise from local musicians.
  • The Bunker family entertainment complex, located on the lower level, recently expanded its activities with the addition of another space. There, people will find ax throwing lanes, a 5,000 square foot tactical laser tag arena, a Nerf gun combat maze, and a number of arcade games.
  • Alexander Hats recently opened in the former Men’s Wearhouse. The store offers casual, contemporary and classic hat styles and offers cleaning, catering and fitting services, according to the store’s website.
  • Legacy Music has announced plans to open a recording and music production studio in the former Bedazzled Bridal and Formal store.

You can reach reporter Gavin Stewart at 704-869-1819 or on Twitter @GavinGazette.

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