strip mall

What is a Strip Mall?

A strip mall can be described as a group of stores, usually arranged in a straight line, connected by a common sidewalk. While there are many different types of strip malls, the majority of them are one-story with large parking lots. Strip malls come in all sizes, and can range in size from 5,000 square feet or retail space to over 100,000 square feet.

Strip Malls vs. Enclosed Malls

Retail shopping centers can describe a variety of retail shopping configurations. The most common configurations being the traditional enclosed shopping mall and the open-air strip mall.

Strip malls and enclosed malls share many similarities. They are both comprised of a group of retail or other commercial establishments, such as restaurants or fitness studios. Although they both include a group of stores, they are owned and managed as a single property.

There are also many ways in which a strip mall differs from an enclosed mall. While the stores in a strip mall are connected to each other, they do not have a central entrance like an enclosed mall. At a strip mall, you have to exit the store and walk outside in order to enter another store.

In the past, enclosed malls were a source of high revenue and heavy foot traffic. However, strip malls have seen a recent surge in popularity, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Strip malls are more likely to include a grocery store, pharmacy, or other establishments providing essentials. In a world of online shopping, many people buy their clothes online but will still frequent a grocery store in person. This allows for a more steady, consistent flow of traffic.


Brief History of Strip Malls

Open-air markets have been around for centuries, but the modern-day strip mall emerged in the 1920s. Market Square in Lake Forest, Illinois is cited as the first planned strip mall. It was developed by Arthur T. Aldis and architect Howard Van Doren Shaw in 1916. However, due to Market Square’s small size, the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri is often credited as the first strip mall in the United States. The Country Club Plaza was the first suburban and regional strip mall to open. It was founded by the J.C. Nichols Company in 1922. Both properties still exist to this day.

Who Manages Strip Malls?

Strip malls are usually managed by larger property management companies that specialize in retail management. A lot of these properties are operated by companies that own or manage several other retail spaces. Companies like Simon Property Group manage hundreds of retail properties, giving them the experience and understanding needed to handle the complexity of strip mall properties. It takes certain skills to manage multiple retailers competing for the best lease.

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