The owners of Northlake Mall are getting creative with how they fill their space.
The mall will be hosting a Shark Tank-like contest for local entrepreneurs that challenges them to submit “innovative retail concepts.” The winner of the challenge, called “Battle of the Pop-Up Contest,” will get a rent-free space at the mall for four months, according to a statement Wednesday from Northlake owner Starwood Retail Partners.
The winner will also get a $500 merchandising package that includes interior signage, table-printed displays and graphic design service, Starwood said. Participants much have a business license by June 1 and operate their business during mall hours from June 1-Sept. 30.
Those interested can apply via Northlake’s website, drop off their application at the mall’s management office, or email this completed PDF form to TheChallenge@StarwoodRetail.com. The deadline to apply is March 30, and there is no cost to enter.
A full list of rules and regulations can be found here. Winners will be contacted by phone or email on April 23.
Applicants will be judged on “business strategy, concept creativity, and likelihood of profitability among other criteria,” Starwood said.
“Supporting local businesses and community ideas is important and vital to the success of our mall as well as the financial health of community overall,” general manager Adam Kamlet said.
As retailers around Charlotte and the rest of the U.S. have closed their doors amid mounting competition from e-commerce, landlords are getting creative with how they are filling vacant retail space. In Charlotte, that’s meant unconventional tenants such as a movie theater planned in an old grocery store space and a DMV in a mall food court, for instance.
Starwood would not say what Northlake’s occupancy rate is, although a number of national retailers have closed their doors in the mall over the last few years, including J. Crew, Gymboree and The Limited. Like other malls, Northlake sometimes fills its empty storefronts with temporary, local operators.
Two years ago, Northlake announced plans for a $50 million, 200,000 square-foot addition on a vacant site adjacent to the mall.
Construction was supposed to begin a year ago, but workers still haven’t broken ground on the project. Starwood has not said why the project is delayed.