Leasing: An Inside Look at What It Takes for A New Store to Open in the Mall

You’ve heard us talk about the leasing process, and now we’re giving you a behind-the-scenes look at just what goes into bringing in new stores to West Acres!

By: Alissa | March 3, 2017

Earlier this year our CEO penned a letter about some exciting changes we’ll have at West Acres in the coming years. Our team is hard at work to bring new stores and experiences to our customers, but you  may find yourself asking – what’s the hold-up? Trust us, we hear you! We promise that we have good things in store, but the leasing process can take time so we thought we’d give you some insight in to the process that it takes to get your favorite new stores to the mall!

The leasing process is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a slow and steady process that involves a lot of relationship building and patience. Slow and steady wins the race, right? What we do is all about you, so we wanted to share some inside details about the process behind getting your favorite stores to make a home here! The typical process goes something like this:

  1. We have a retailer on our radar. We are continuously looking to the future and researching and connecting with stores that we believe would be a great fit at West Acres. Stores on our radar are also based on customer feedback – all those times we ask you what you want to see or your messages you send us with your requests – we take those to heart! We want the stores that our customers want.
  2. We need to be on their radar too. This process is a two-way street – we may want a store to come to West Acres, but they also have to want to be here. Sometimes our market isn’t large enough for them, or they might not be in expansion mode. If that’s the case then we keep in touch and look at possibilities down the road – we aren’t ones to give up easy!
  3. We have to have a space that fits their needs. Each retailer has a specific layout that works for them – a specific size in length, a specific storefront width, a specific location within the mall (so many logistics!). Sometimes we have a store that is interested and that we and our customers really want, but we don’t have the right space available. When this happens we sometimes look to shuffle things around to create an opportunity. This can become a waiting game as well as a giant puzzle to piece together something that fits. We’re always up for a challenge though! It just may take extra time to make something work and find just the right space.
  4. We have to meet all of their criteria. If they’re interested and we have a space that works, they then take further steps to evaluate the mall and our market (we try to dress to impress!). They do an analysis that involves looking at market demographics, they visit the mall and the space and they evaluate competition in the area. If these things check-out, we then move to the negotiation phase.
  5. Time for negotiation. Business terms are outlined, negotiated and agreed upon.
  6. Creating the deal. A lease is pulled together and legal terms are negotiated by attorneys on both sides. There can be a lot of back and forth, but eventually we have ourselves a deal that satisfies both parties and the process continues…
  7. A timeline is put together. During the leasing process not only are legal terms negotiated, but the retailer pulls together their timeline for opening. Sometimes a retailer is able to open a store in only a few months but other times it can take more than a year. The retailer or restaurant work on a feasible opening date that is determined at their corporate level based on budget, the timeline for designing the space, ordering fixtures, ordering inventory, construction of the store, hiring the store team, and planning the opening marketing.
  8. Leases are signed. (Yay!)
  9. Announcement time! We make an announcement to our customers about the new store and their expected opening date! We know you all love this part (and so do we!).

You can see that the process is lengthy and sometimes a bit tricky, but we’re always working hard to get the latest and greatest for you! At the moment we are talking to a number of stores that are all at different phases of this process:

  • H&M
  • Lululemon (opened as of November 2017)
  • Torrid
  • Dry Goods (opened as of May 2018)
  • Zumiez (opened as of October 2017) 
  • Aerie
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Build-A-Bear
  • Chick-fil-A (opened as of January 2018)

… Just to name a few! All have interest in West Acres, and we hope that we can get them here! The great news is that one is nearing step 7 (a signed lease), so we’ll have fun announcements very soon!

In the meantime, we’d love your feedback! What stores are on your list that should also be on ours? Click here to share your thoughts.


I have the amazing role of being able to lead the Marketing, PR and Fashion team at West Acres. Being able to combine my passion for business, fashion, design and communication makes each day exciting and energizing. I also have the privilege of holding two other titles – mama to two littles and wife. I have a passion for new adventures, traveling, creating yummy things in the kitchen and coffee with a good book.




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