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Crosscut has a story about the Pacific Place shopping mall in downtown Seattle, just a block east of Nordstrom's flagship store, which because of both the impact of the pandemic on bricks-and-mortar retail and change sin consumer behavior that were in motion before Covid-19 changed the world, has seen an exodus of almost all the major and even minor retailers that had locations there.

The mall is trying a different approach to revitalization, the story says.  Instead of the fancy boutiques and chain stores that used to be there, shoppers are finding "art and handmade objects by local artisans.

"On the shelves of the former Kate Spade store now sit — alongside fancy French soaps, stationary, books and vintage treasures — ceramic miniatures by Sharon Jewell, sculptural jewelry by Joan Cihak and Lauren Grossman and rustic pottery by Karra Wise, all local artists whose work is for sale at locally owned indie shop Orcas Paley. Next door you’ll find a brand-new retail outlet of Debonair Decor Couture, a 1-year-old local clothing label that also sells pop-art-style artworks depicting music stars and celebrities. 

"A couple escalators up, Destination Maternity and Teavana have been replaced with boutiques dedicated to jewelry, art, home goods and gifts designed and handmade by artists. In the former Victoria’s Secret, new Black healing and art space Wonder of Women has hung paintings of history-making Black women in the niches formerly taken up by brassieres and frilly panties.

"Part of a pop-up program meant to reinvigorate the dormant five-story mall, these small, indie businesses and art nonprofits are here on temporary leases to fill the spaces left behind by chain stores — at, yes, bargain prices … Although Pacific Place started its 'Pop-Up & Grow' program prepandemic, it has proved especially popular in recent months, as downtown emerges from the pandemic and small businesses are, as ever, looking for affordable rent."

KC's View:

I'm familiar with this location, which has been plagued by bad luck - there was a multimillion dollar renovation designed to make it more appealing to nearby South Lake Union workers and residents (many of whom work for Amazon and other tech companies).  But before the renovation was completed, Covid hit … and things only got worse from there.

Hard to imagine that in an expensive, high-end location like this that a pop-up strategy is a long-term solution.  But maybe it does give management some time to tread water while they figure out what to do long term.