MASON CITY, Iowa - With the new multi-purpose arena construction underway at Southbridge Mall, the shopping center seems to be enjoying a sudden resurgence.
Taking a stroll, you may notice some new, smaller stores like River City Mini Golf, L&T Body Work Massage, Pets Plus, and Opie's Skate Shop, and more could be on the way.
Rick Larson with Red Zone Sports recently moved into the old Hallmark store location. He says the constant traffic the arena, as well as the planned hotel and convention center, will bring is an impetus for more would-be business owners to choose the mall. In fact, there is talk of a new store soon to open up in a vacant space across the main walkway from Red Zone.
"It seems like every day, every other day, you see somebody coming in to look at a spot, and there are some spots starting to fill. And I think that will continue to happen until the arena opens. I think by early next year, I think we'll have more businesses back in the mall."
He believes that the key to revitalize malls like Southbridge is more specialty stores like his, as big box stores are feeling the pinch due to online shopping like Amazon.
"Your big box retail stores have been struggling for a few years and continue to struggle, so I don't know if we're going to see any of them come back to the malls. I still think there's room for other types of businesses, specialty stores like myself, that has some success. And this would be a nice place, I think, for someone to start."
In Monday's one-minute video update posted to the City of Mason City's Facebook page, Mayor Bill Schickel says mall management has either signed leases or are being discussed.