New stores such as Ulta, H&M and Forever 21 have been added to Macomb Mall in recent years, making it one of the few malls in southeast Michigan with increasing business and attendance.

New stores such as Ulta, H&M and Forever 21 have been added to Macomb Mall in recent years, making it one of the few malls in southeast Michigan with increasing business and attendance.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Macomb Mall bucks the trend, shows improving business

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published November 19, 2019

 Since being purchased by Lormax Stern in 2013, Macomb Mall  has shown steady growth and improvements in business.  During that time, it has  filled most of its unoccupied  storefronts with new businesses.

Since being purchased by Lormax Stern in 2013, Macomb Mall has shown steady growth and improvements in business. During that time, it has filled most of its unoccupied storefronts with new businesses.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Photo provided by Apple Wick

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ROSEVILLE — While many malls across the country are struggling or showing decreased business in 2019, one local mall is flying in the face of that trend and bouncing back.

Macomb Mall opened in 1964, and for much of its history, it played second fiddle to other, larger malls such as Eastland Center or Lakeside Mall. When the economic crisis hit in 2008, difficult economic realities that began with the growth of online shopping combined to create a harsh environment for the traditional mall.

In 2013, Macomb Mall came under new management and things began to turn around.

“Back in 2013, Lormax Stern purchased us, and it was like finding a diamond in the rough,” Macomb Mall Manager Marianne Meyers said. “They invested in upgrades and bringing in new tenants and creating a consistency for both shoppers and tenants. The look in the mall was more consistent, there were cleaner sight lines and so forth. … We were 30% vacant when Lormax Stern took us over, and now we are only 5% (vacant).”

Albert Ansara, the co-owner of the Diamond Gallery inside the mall, has been with the business since 1999. He’s seen the ups and downs of the mall and witnessed firsthand the difference that came in 2013.

“They reached out to the right tenants to get them into the mall,” he said. “They got Ulta, H&M, Forever 21, and it made a difference to have the stores people are looking for here. They also gave the mall a good face-lift, and customers had a good response to that.”

In the last six years, Macomb Mall was transformed from being stale and outdated to modern and more accessible to customers.

“The mall was old and tired-looking,” Meyers remarked. “It hadn’t been upgraded since the 1980s, and Lormax Stern brought in new lighting and signage, as well as more current businesses that people wanted so they didn’t have to drive 30 minutes to get to another. … I think the difference was investment, and it was having the owners be a group of people who cared about the property.”

Besides the financial investment, Ansara said that the primary influence the Lormax Stern owners had was being more proactive and involved in the mall.

“The owners are local, and I actually see them in the mall making changes,” he said. “I think that makes a big difference. … We saw a noticeable increase in customers.”

The improvement has reverberated up and down the Gratiot corridor. Carolyn Dorian, the vice president of Dorian Ford in Clinton Township, said the revitalization at Macomb Mall has helped lead to a revitalization of the surrounding area.

“I think Macomb Mall is the heart and soul of Gratiot,” she said. “People not only need a place to shop, but a place to experience the community. A mall is a great place to introduce yourself as a business and introduce their products.”

She said Macomb Mall’s administrators have taken concrete steps to be part of the community.

“We have been seeing a visible improvement in the last two years. The parking lots along Gratiot are full again. You really see them reaching out to the community with events and so forth, and I think that has been a huge factor in its improvement,” said Dorian. “We just sponsored their Mall-o-ween event and were there showing off our new 2020 Ford Explorer, and I was so impressed with how clean and inviting the space was in the mall.” 

“I think community involvement matters to a successful mall,” added Meyers. “We still offer family traditions like Santa and the Easter Bunny, and we still provide community events here in the mall. We want to be a place within the community, whereas other malls have let events like that fall by the wayside.”

Roseville Mayor Robert Taylor said that the improvement at Macomb Mall has been influential in improving the economic outlook of the city.

“Bringing more business establishes better stability for our city,” said Taylor. “It also helps our other businesses. If people come to the Macomb Mall and shop there, maybe after (shopping) they want to go to some of our restaurants or they get gas here, so it’s a benefit for everybody. It benefits all of Macomb County. If you think about it, we don’t really have another place for people and families to go to like this.”

Meyers said malls are still very much a viable entity in American culture, but to make them successful, they require a proper investment of labor, social involvement and money.

“Where other malls are not surviving, we are beating the odds. Next year, we are actually going to be adding a new food cluster inside the mall with restaurants like Cinnabon and China Max coming in,” she said. “Other malls may not be willing to invest like this. Our landlord has definitely invested in the mall. This has gotten more customers in. People are coming back, including people who haven’t been here before or haven’t been here in many years, and they are surprised at what they are finding and telling their friends.”

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