Struggling Shopping Malls May Be Revived By Pickleball

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man and woman playing pickleball

Could your local mall’s anchor stores be replaced with pickleball courts?

While there are still some thriving shopping malls scattered across the country, it’s starting to feel like the golden age of malls is getting smaller in the review mirror. Thanks to online shopping and other factors, indoor shopping centers are generally struggling, leaving an excess supply of large spaces sitting empty across the country.

Shopping mall owners are eager to fill their vacancies with paying tenants, but they’ve had to get creative as they reimagine the future of malls.

With consumers shifting their spending away from acquiring stuff and more towards enjoying fun social experiences, developers are capitalizing on this trend by filling malls with more experiential tenants.

People jumping on huge trampolines

Now, we’re starting to see signs of life in previously abandoned storefronts thanks to some unexpected new tenants.

These include theaters, arcades, trampoline parks, gyms, virtual golf, breweries, go-karts, laser tag, indoor skydiving, amusement parks, escape rooms, sport facilities, and more.

Pickleball Players

Pickleball, America’s fastest-growing sport, is one example of an activity that is targeting shopping malls as part of its expansion strategy.

Because of the popping noise associated with pickleball, some neighborhoods have started to ban the sport or limit the hours during which it can be played. Now it can be hard to find a place to play pickleball in some areas, so designated pickleball courts (especially those indoors) are in high demand!

looking down at the interior of a shopping mall

Developers hope that these nontraditional mall tenants will help to revitalize entire shopping centers. If someone comes into the mall to play pickleball, maybe they’ll want to grab a bite to eat, too. They might even want to stay and shop, which would draw more retail tenants back to the property and ultimately bring the mall’s life cycle full circle.

In addition to fun experiences, malls are making creative use of their vacant spaces to draw in other tenants, too. Abandoned storefronts have also been converted into restaurants, farmer’s markets, healthcare providers, storage facilities, and multifamily housing units.

How is your local mall doing? Is it thriving, struggling, or evolving into something totally new? Let us know in the comments below!

Keep up with all the latest news from the world of retail right here!

About the writer:

Jenna has a Bachelor's Degree from Lycoming College and her Master's from Penn State, holding 4 years of writing experience between a variety of publications and Hip2Save.

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Comments 2

  1. Ali

    Our local mall has transformed its empty storefronts into many entertaining things, like a VR gaming center, tattoo shop, salons/spas, and even a stage for local theater groups. Doctor and dentist offices have gone in, and the anchor stores have become large arcades and escape rooms as well. It’s sad to see the retail stores struggling but I’m happy that the malls can still be a destination spot for families, and teenagers can still have somewhere to hang out like we used to do when I was younger! 🙂

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Yes! I agree, Ali. I’ve been seeing this happening at a mall near me too. Thanks for taking the time to comment. ❤️

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