The Fashion Center is conveniently located @
814 Hwy 62 - 65 North in Harrison, AR
Address
814 Hwy 62-65 North
Harrison, AR
Phone #
Ph. 870.741.5733
Fax 870.741.2673
 

ABOUT THE OWNER
Mall Owner Shares Goals for The Fashion Center
By: Donna Braymer, Harrison Daily Times
 
Barry Cohen, owner of The Fashion Center met with the newspaper and the executive members of the Harrison Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday to discuss his plans for the mall.

Cohen has been involved in real estate for 30 years. "Typically I buy distressed properties. I think that comes from being the youngest of three brothers. I was used to getting hand me downs and broken toys that I liked to fix. I enjoyed it. So I've found myself doing that as an adult too. I get a lot of satisfaction from it."

He admitted it's not just for financial gain, but seeing something beautiful come from it. He has recently purchased an area in downtown St. Louis where he resides. "But don't worry. I'm not going to ignore Harrison."
Cohen purchased the mall back in the 70's. "It was not my typical purchase but I saw a lot of opportunities because of the diversity of companies and I bought it on favorable terms."
He said it has been an interesting project
.

"A lot of the tenants were there on long term leases with options to the end of time and lease rates were very low. They were paying the same price that industrial warehouse space is leased for. I couldn't justify remodeling the property. I bought it understanding there wasn't a cost of living increase built in with the lease terms. So for many years, I had to stay pretty much the way it was."

Cohen actually sold the property at one time, but the new owner defaulted and he had to repossess it about five years later.
"Then after 9/11 the retail climate got weak. It was pointless to talk to retailers. None of them were expanding, and a lot were thinking of shutting down. So instead of launching a marketing effort, I focused on a new roof, and floors and getting ready for when the market would come back. Retail started to pick up again about a year ago, so now we can finish up and really go after it."

Cohen explained that most major retailers have had to rethink their positions in communities. Some larger chains only build next to another large retailer. "I've been trying to figure out how to best position the Ozark Mall."
That's when the name of the mall changed from the Ozark Mall to The Fashion Center.
"I felt like it would be better to move it into a fashion concept. Other shopping centers are doing the same thing, trying to find more niche markets. That's the direction I am going and we have some very successful tenants. I think I have a very successful story to tell, to bring other retailers into the center."

Cohen has continued to introduce retailers to the Harrison market. Home Depot was considering the property. "They ended up building down the street, and that's OK. That's good for everyone."
He also said half of the retailers in the strip center across from Wal-Mart were originally approached to be in the mall including Cato's.
Cohen admits he has given up tenants because they did not fit the long term goal for the mall.

"The theater wanted to expand. There is a lot of controversy concerning theaters in malls, plus the parking problem it could cause. So I passed on it. The best long term plans of the center did not allow me to do that. So I forgave some potential income."
What are the plans for the mall?
"My plan is to create an indoor, interactive kiddie park. I stress the word interactive because today's kids need to think and experience." For the past year he has been going to trade shows and doing research on the type of equipment he has in mind.
"I would like to have the common area create excitement and draw people into the center and make it a vibrant successful center. I decided to go after young children and pre teens. They usually have to be attended by an adult or family member and I felt the community needed more venues for children to experience. It will essentially be an indoor theme park for toddlers to pre-teens."

"I think it will be exciting and educational as well." Some games and play areas have already been added to the common area with more on order. Toddlers will have some games and science items to interact with as well as soft areas to climb and crawl around on. Some games will involve a token or coin, and some will be free. He would also like to offer food and kiosks after the rides and games are well established.
What is the time line for the attractions? "Everything will be in place before Christmas. Two to three months max." Shoppers can already see a difference in the mall. More benches, new attractive trash receptacles and artificial greenery is also being ordered.
Cohen is ready to launch a major marketing campaign to entice national, regional and local retailers into the mall.

"I'm prepared to offer local tenants rent abatement or percentage based rent. Whatever it takes. They need to bring in a good business plan and be willing to put money into the space. I don't want to deal with anyone on a shoe string budget, because they won't be successful."
"When you bring in a national retailer and a business looks like a flea market, the prospective owner thinks, 'If this is what the owner is accepting, I'm not coming here.' I've walked away from deals because of that."
"So you have to bite the bullet and keep the space open. That's why I've negotiated with getting the laundry mat out of there, and I'm trying to move the Army/Navy to the outside of the mall. They are good tenants. I've offered them space on the north side like I did for Ruby's. She's been there on a month to month lease, same rent structure. I offered her more space, visibility and the paint. What more can I do?

"I never raised her rent. She was serving a purpose there." Cohen also explained that the new Breadeaux Restaurant had nothing to do with Ruby's closing. "I wish her well."
Another challenge for Cohen is convincing national retailers the trade area for The Fashion Center is 15-30 miles. "Most national retailers think in a 1, 3 or 5 mile radius. They do not understand our area. But that trend is changing."
When the parking lot repair is complete it will be sealed and re-striped adding more driving directions and designated handicap parking places.
Cohen is very optimistic with the increased traffic count in front of the mall, the new Walgreens, and the four-lane highway construction from Missouri. "J.C. Penney's and Goody's are both doing well and I have a story I can sell to retailers."

ABOUT HARRISON

Welcome to The Fashion Center located in the heart of Harrison Arkansas. Harrison is a community with a population of approximately 14,000 people, yet over 30,000 regularly shop in the bustling community.

 

The unique geographical layout of the area allow for spacious green space and unbelievable countryside from the mountains of Newton County to the Buffalo River National Park. Major metropolitan cities are hours away allowing Harrison to be the shopping destination for thousands of families.

 

The tourist industry is no stranger to this community. Several state and national sporting events are held in Harrison inviting thousands of families to spend time in the Ozarks. Just 30 minutes south of Branson, Missouri and 45 miles east of Eureka Springs, Arkansas tourists enjoy relaxing and shopping in the area. Harrison is also home for several restaurants featured in Southern Living magazine.

 

Major corporations have found a home in Arkansas and discovered the hard-working moral ethic of the people. The city of Harrison has received several awards and national recognition for being a great place have a business and raise a family.

 

FedEx Freight is just one of the companies with corporate offices in Harrison. The company enforces a high standard corporate dress code and local retailers are always needed to provide the work and casual attire for over 900 of their employees.

 

Families are a very important component of The Fashion Place. Under construction and development at this time is an interactive area specifically for children. A portion of the play area is already available with more opening in the next few months.

 

The Fashion Center is located on Highway 62-65 in Harrison. Plenty of spacious parking with easy access to entrances is available and can accommodate any shopper.

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