By IAN SKOTTE
Northgate Mall manager Ken Keller announced Monday that the addition of a national brand retailer to the mall could be in the works.
“We have a signed [letter of intent] on a 15,000-square-foot soft goods retailer that is a national brand that would be a major get for Tullahoma in part of our Dillard’s space,” said Keller.
“That deal continues to develop and will require several committee meetings on behalf of our prospect before it gets the final green light.”
However, until a deal gets finalized, Keller said, he is not ready to announce who the prospect is.
Also soon to be relocating to Northgate Mall are Merle Norman, currently located on the Forrest Gallery Shopping Center, and Christy’s Gifts and Accessories, currently located on 405 N. Jackson St.,
Owners Christy and Randy Amacher recently purchased Merle Norman and will relocate both the businesses into the former Dillard’s junior department, which is a 4,529 square foot space, according to Keller.
“They will do a great job here at the mall and they will be combining their existing business they have had four years with this new venture,” said Keller.
Amacher says she hopes to open at Northgate sometime at the beginning April.
“We’ll be combining Christy’s Jewelry and Gifts with Merle Norman,” said Amacher.
Merle Norman Cosmetics is an 80-year-old cosmetics franchise business and its products are all made in America.
Amacher said her store will continue to carry the popular Hello Kitty line as well as baby gifts, Mud Pie clothes, Chameleon silver and monogrammed jewelry and personalized gifts.
Merle Norman’s hours will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. when it reopens at its new location in April.
Another effort to draw in a younger demographic is the revitalization of an arcade, opened by Southeastern Vending Arcade early last year in the former Woodard’s Diamond Showcase location in the mall.
“We would still like to have a safe environment for our youth to have fun,” said Keller. “I remember going to the Fun Tunnel back in my days as a teen many moons ago. [The arcade] delivers some interesting games I think teens will enjoy.”
The arcade has plenty to offer.
There is a dance machine, several driving games, an air-hockey table and much more.
But those are not the only additions Keller has been able to secure for the mall.
Another new store gracing Northgate’s halls is Protect Yourself & More, which sells pepper spray, stun guns, child ID straps, and much more. Protect Yourself & More opened in the former Army recruiting office on March 1.
Store hours are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m., according to owner Christiana Harr.
Keller hopes the additional stores will help increase Tullahoma’s $360 million in annual retail sales.
“Those sales tax dollars staying local means a lot for our city from an economic standpoint,” Keller said.
Keller took over as Northgate Mall manager for Kathy Gilmer, who oversaw mall operations for several years, in late 2009. Since that time Northgate has been able to add Burke’s Outlet, Rue21 and Hibbett Sports.
“These were great gets for us,” said Keller. “Hibbett Sports relocated from another part of town and their sales have increased. Burke’s Outlet has a great price point and the store is well managed by Patsy Roberts. Rue21 filled a niche for us in drawing a teen audience and bringing our middle school and high school students back in.”
Tullahoma’s Northgate Mall is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
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