Rodney and Sheila Roberts hope to find more visibility and exposure for their custom graphic design business Gadsook at their new Towne Square Mall location. While many national brands — like Burkes Outlet and Kirkland’s — are leaving the mall, opting for new developments like Gateway Commons, locally owned stores are finding the space both plentiful and affordable.
“The mall management people have been great to work with,” Rodney said. “They made it possible to do this.”
Rodney said his new store, which was previously rented by a packaging business and most commonly remembered as Bedland, offers him more space to expand his business and a professional look he lacked in his previous 220 Hamilton Ave. location.
“This is an upgrade in every possible way,” Rodney said. “We will do 10 times more business here.”
Rodney is a sixth-generation artist and is excited to expand what he loves to do, although he admits it is a lot of hard work, especially preparing the store for opening day.
“I could go get a job. It would be easier,” Rodney said. “We use this business to help people and make a difference.”
With an anticipated Feb. 1 opening, Gadsook will offer screen printing, air brushing, dye sublimation, vinyl and digital printing. Rodney says these are both business and gift services, meaning he hopes to offer his products to local businesses and individual customers.
“If someone is looking for something unique and doesn’t know where to go, they should probably just come here,” Rodney said, naming a refurbished John Deere tractor display panel as one of his most unique projects.
The Roberts have allotted 1,000 square feet for the store and another 5,000 square feet for production. He plans to hire three to four employees at first, but will have the space and equipment for up to 15 people to work at one time.
Another local business that has found success in Towne Square Mall is Hard Copies, a record and CD store that offers music related apparel as well.
Owner Doug Byers opened the store in November 2017. Since then Byers said sales have been good enough to keep the store stocked and his bills and employees paid.
“I’m doing this because I love it,” Byers said. “I am the only guy in town that carries new records and I have the largest selection of rock T-shirts in the city.”
According to Byers, the mall is ideal for a small business to take up shop.
“You can’t beat the rent,” Byers said. “I would pay three to four times higher if I tried to rent somewhere else.”
Byers said he would like to see more local businesses come to the mall.
“It could become a hub for small businesses,” Byers said.
According to Towne Square Mall’s website, they may already be. Their directory lists 18 national brands and 21 local brands located inside the mall. But a quick walk around shows at least 15 vacant stores.
Byers said the mall staff is extremely easy to work with and encourages local business owners to consider the space.
“My take on the mall,” he said, “is if you are looking for a place for a small business, this is it.”