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Garden State Plaza jumps on trend of short leases for local stores

Al Urbanski
chic sugars
Chic Sugar proprietor Erika Oldham looks to expand her customer base beyond Nicki Minaj and Jay-Z with her space at Garden State Plaza.

PREIT has been doing it, CBL is doing it, and now another big mall owner is offering special lease terms to local and minority-owned businesses to add variety to its tenant lineups.

Garden State Plaza, one of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s premier properties in the United States, has started a program in association with Ramapo College’s NJ Small Business Development center that offers leases for periods as short as three months to local mom-and-pop businesses and shops owned by women and minorities.

The first retailer to take advantage of the program is Chic Sugars, run by Erika Oldham, who has gained notoriety for creating sweet treats for celebrities the likes of Jay-Z, Missy Elliott, and Nicki Minaj.

“I’m looking forward to expanding my customer base beyond my storefront bakery in Englewood, while also diversifying my product offerings to more bite-sized items that mall shoppers can enjoy on-the-go,” said Oldham, who recently appeared on the Food Network show, “Winner Cake All.”

Tonnies Minis, an online bakery that has customers pick cupcake flavors before presenting a choice of ingredient options, also debuts this month at Garden State Plaza.

“It’s not only another location for us, but also an expanded demographic,” said Tonnie Rozier. Her other New Jersey shops are located in Newark and Edgewater.

Over the past two years, leasing operations at big mall-owning concerns have radically adjusted what were standard lease terms of 10 to 15 years to give themselves the opportunity to adjust their tenant mixes to current tastes—as well as to regularly feature new options to draw people back to their properties.

“For many small businesses, this is an opportunity to transform a lifelong dream into reality by debuting a concept or expanding an existing one alongside the biggest names in retail,” said Garden State Plaza’s marketing manager Tiffany Ramirez, who noted that the program might be replicated at other Westfield centers in the U.S.

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