Athleta among new stores opening at The Empire Mall

By Jodi Schwan

Women’s performance apparel chain Athleta is coming to The Empire Mall.

Owned by Gap Inc., it specializes in clothing designed to go from work to workout, including apparel for yoga, running and hiking. It also includes sizes for girls.

It will be the retailer’s first location in South Dakota.

“We are thrilled to bring Athleta to South Dakota and to become part of The Empire Mall/Sioux Falls community,” said Susan Goss Brown, vice president of store operations at Athleta.

Employees at Athleta model apparel from the store. It’s all designed by women.

“Our brand stands for inclusivity and encouraging women to come together and uplift one another. We look forward to introducing our free classes and events to Empire Mall and forging new relationships both with our neighboring retailers and the community here at Empire Mall.”

The brand focuses on sustainable practices, including fabric and fiber development and technologies.

“We cannot wait to welcome South Dakota’s first Athleta location to The Empire Mall this fall,” said Kirsten Schaffer, director of marketing and business development at the mall. “Athleta features a beautiful selection of premium athletic apparel for women and girls, offering our shoppers something new in time for holiday shopping.”

Athleta will be in the vacant space next to Loft and adjacent to the mall’s 41st Street entrance.

The store will open by the end of October and is one of multiple new retailers coming to the mall, said Dan Gies, who took over as general manager this summer.

“There’s a lot of great opportunities,” he said. “We’re excited about going into the holidays.”

Ashcroft & Oak Jewelers plans to open Sept. 29 near the center court.

Its offerings include engagement rings, diamond fashion, gemstone jewelry and watches by designers such as Gucci Timepieces, Movado and a Gabriel & Co. NY shop-in-shop experience. Ashcroft & Oak also carries an exclusive collection of contemporary engagement rings by designer Demetrios Elias.

“We are very excited to be opening our first Ashcroft & Oak store in South Dakota at The Empire Mall,” said Amber Willmer, director of social and digital marketing for parent company Rogers Enterprises.

“Ashcroft & Oak is a part of a family of stores with knowledgeable staff, unique merchandise and distinctive guest service, which we cannot wait to share with the Sioux Falls community.”

Grand-opening celebrations will run from Sept.29 to Oct. 29.  Guests can enter to win a black and white diamond pendant.  The first 150 guests to enter the store also will receive a complimentary gift bag.

To make room for the addition of Ashcroft & Oak Jewelers, the mall’s Sunglass Hut consolidated its store in the center court with its location inside Macy’s.

Seasonal changes

Halloween brings a temporary space for Spirit Halloween, which opened recently in the Sears wing. It’s partnering this year with Avera for its Spirit of Children give-back program.

Customers will be asked if they would like to donate at the register, and all money received will go to Avera Children’s Hospital.

Since 2010, the Sioux Falls store has raised more than $67,000.

The mall also has started leasing space to retailers for the Christmas season and is hoping to build on recent momentum with local businesses.

Recent new additions Candy Clubhouse and Escape 605 are proving popular with shoppers, Gies said.

“We’ve got some great traction with local entrepreneurs. They just hit the ground running,” he said. “The thing we’re excited about going into the holidays is our pop-up shop opportunity. If somebody thinks they want to give it a try but thinks maybe they can’t do it at Empire, they should give us a call.”

While the summer-long construction project on Louise Avenue hurt traffic at the mall, retailers in Sioux Falls, in general, seem healthy, Gies said.

While national retailers announced closures in the first half of the year, “I don’t think any major news will come up in the next few months,” he said.

Toys R Us, which has a stand-alone store on the mall campus, filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy Tuesday ahead of the holiday season, but its CEO called it a step to make sure the brand lives on.

The company said it will continue to operate its stores as usual.

The mall doesn’t know of any major upcoming closures but would be able to weather them, Gies said.

“If things happen down the road with some of our players, I think we’ve got good ideas we can look to,” he said. “You see how our customers are responding to the different entertainment venues, not only here but in other cities like us, and it’s pretty exciting.”

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Athleta among new stores opening at The Empire Mall

Women’s performance apparel chain Athleta is coming to The Empire Mall.

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