Retail lab workspace debuts at Cherry Hill Mall

What better shared workspace tenant could a mall operator wish for than one that might churn out more new tenants?

1776, the business incubator workpsace that opened on the second floor of PREIT’s Cherry Hill Mall in New Jersey last week has the potential to do just that. It’s operating as a laboratory for would-be retailers in the middle of a 1.3 million-sq.-ft. marketplace.

“Our members will have unique amenities available to them to further their business ideas and scale them into market," said 1776 CEO Jennifer Maher at a ribbon-cutting and launch party. “The real-world exposure to test their products that they otherwise wouldn't have had access to is a huge benefit.”

1776 is a membership model that gives members 24/7 access to a private office and shared business services and common areas for $999 a month. More limited plans are available, including the 15-day-a-month “Hot Desk” package for $199.

Adjoining the office space on the mall floor is the 1776-owned Founders’ Market, a boutique where members can test and sell their wares. It has a separate entrance and appears to shoppers as an in-line tenant in this upscale mall that houses the likes of Nordstrom, Macy’s, Crate & Barrel, Hugo Boss, Lululemon, and Zara.

Up-and-coming retailer Nellie Arnold of B. Ross, a company whose products are made and marketed by single moms, said the Founders’ Market gave her company a welcome boost. “When we tell people we’re available at Cherry Hill Mall, they are very impressed,” she told the grand opening gathering.

“We are delivering a differentiated retail experience to shoppers and, at the same time, creating a community of innovation within our mall walls," said PREIT CEO Joseph F. Coradino.

Jerre Riggs, chief real estate officer for 1776, told Chain Store Age that the company has plans to replicate its Cherry Hill retail lab at malls nationwide.