General Growth Properties Inc., the owner of Baltimore's Harborplace, has put a dozen retail kiosks on the Inner Harbor promenade that faces Harborplace, and plans to add more. The vendors sell everything from garden decorations, to frozen custard, to women's accessories.
The addition marks the first major physical change to the Inner Harbor since the city opened West Shore Park in time for the Volvo Ocean Race in April last year. Harborplace General Manager, Christopher Schardt, said he hopes the kiosks draw more foot traffic to the mall.
As the second largest tourist draw in the Baltimore area, Harborplace and the Gallery attract 13 million visitors annually. The kiosks will hopefully, "Bring some energy and life to this space," Harborplace Marketing Director, Carmel Gambacorta, said.
"There has been an interest in doing something like this for a number of years on the part of the retail community," Schardt said. General Growth is spending more than $150,000 this year to build and operate the kiosks.
Though General Growth owns the kiosks, the city owns the land, and allowed the mall owner to lease the property for a five year contract that ends March 2012. The city is also considering adding retail kiosks along another thoroughfare, Platt Street, to create a more festive atmosphere there.
Retail kiosks can be quite profitable, earning as much as $100,000 a month, according to Mark Millman, a retail consultant and president of Millman Search Group Inc. in Owings Mills, MD. "That's why the malls have kiosks. It's a big business," he said.
Allison Wolf, who is one of owners of jewelry store Amaryllis at the Gallery, said she was not worried that the outdoor kiosks would compete with the stores inside the mall. "If it lends to a more festive atmosphere, then it's good," she said.
This article was excerpted and edited from a story in the Baltimore Business Journal.
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