With Nordstrom on its way, mall increases high-end retailers

High-end retailer Nordstrom announced recently it would take over Sear's current location in The Woodlands Mall in 2014, and with the addition of popular stores like Vera Bradley, Oakley and PINK by Victoria's Secret, the mall seems to be shaping up to be The Woodlands' exclusive upscale shopping center.

Mall representatives maintain the importance of catering to customers and giving shoppers what they want, but recent tenant additions have follwed a trend toward more upscale store.

Woodlands Mall marketing manager Noemi Cortez said the mall is not necessarily creating a high-end-only brand.

"We're not looking to be specifically high-end," Cortez said, "But our motto has always been to evolve as a mall."

Cortez, who works for mall owners General Growth Properties, said the mall always strives to update its tenants based on customer demand.

"We get great feedback from our customers and if they want change, we will change it up," Cortez said.

She said it is not particularly easy for tenants to get a spot in the mall as certain requirements have to be met.

Coretz said the mall prides itself on its lineup of merchants and quality tenants.

"We select our tenant mix by evaluating the evolving needs of the market and meet those needs and expectations of our customers," she said.

Woodlands Mall general manager Gene Satern said the mall is always concerned with targeting the hottest new retailers and the newest name out there.

"We try to go after first-to-market tenants. We like to be first to have them in the area," he said. "Take Soft Surroundings–it's the first one in Houston. That's what we like to go after here."

Soft Surroundings sells women's clothing and accessories, jewelry, home dcor and beauty products.

Satern also said the incoming PB Teen, a division of Pottery Barn, will be another first-to-market store in the Houston area.

Nick Wolda, president of The Woodlands Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said The Woodlands Mall exceeds customer's expectations by maintaining good, solid stores and restaurants that are long-term.

"There will be as many different opinions as there are people regarding 'high-end' or what is 'in' and what is not," Wolda said. "I believe the most important thing in development of a destination is the variety, commitment to public safety, commitment to public infrastructure, and a commitment to events and activities."

Satern said everyone's view differs as to what is defined as high-end or upscale.

"I don't want to say we're upscale, but we're certainly heading that direction," Satern said. "Still, we're a mall for everybody, and we have something for everyone."

Cortez said GGP is extremely excited to bring Nordstrom into the mall. Wolda said the luxury retailer will add a new element of shopping to The Woodlands.

Satern said the mall plans on using Nordstrom as an anchor to attract more high-end retailers to The Woodlands Mall.

"Not every mall has a Nordstrom," Satern said. "I think it gives us an edge."

The addition of upscale retailers, Cortez said, such as Nordstrom, is a result of consumer demand and natural commercial evolution.

"There are always new designers and new stores," she said. "We are just keeping up with what our customers say they want."



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