West County Center still growing strong
In an era marked by upheaval at some shopping malls in the St. Louis region – with anchor stores closing, specialty retailers moving out and entire malls being repurposed – West County Center continues to thrive as a hub for area shoppers.
As it celebrates the 15th anniversary of its 2002 “grand reopening”, West County’s continued growth through the addition of new and unique retailers and popular restaurants leave the mall solidly positioned for future success.
West County Center first opened its doors in February 1969. Anchored by Famous-Barr and JCPenney, the original mall included just over 560,000 square feet and about 50 specialty retail stores on a single level. In early 2001, the mall closed for a complete tear-down and remodel, leaving only the original JCPenney left standing, although that store was completely remodeled as well.
When it reopened in September 2002, the new and improved West County Center had doubled in size to more than 1 million square feet of retail space on two levels, and abundant parking in three connected garages. Described at that time as a “shopper’s nirvana,” the reinvigorated mall added the area’s first Nordstrom to its original anchors, along with New York-based Lord & Taylor. It also boasted a two-level Dick’s Sporting Goods store, the region’s first Apple store and about 175 retail outlets in total.
After its sale by Federated Department Stores, Famous-Barr officially became Macy’s in 2006. Lord & Taylor closed both its area mall locations that same year, and was soon replaced at West County with a new wing housing a Barnes & Noble bookstore, more specialty retailers and the mall’s popular Restaurant Village.
In 2007, the mall’s current owner, CBL & Associates Properties, Inc., acquired West County Center from Westfield Corp.
Today, the busy mall that many West County residents have shopped at since childhood continues to adapt profitably to fast-changing market conditions, and remains a business centerpiece of its home community of Des Peres.
“West County Center has always been the primary economic engine for our city, and we’re thrilled that it continues to be so vibrant and successful – especially in such a challenging retail environment,” said longtime Des Peres Mayor Rick Lahr.
While internet shopping has given consumers virtually unlimited opportunities to browse – and buy – online, many still prefer to visit the mall to do so in person, according to CBL Marketing Director Sean Phillips. “Our customers have a more targeted approach to shopping now. People do research online, but they like to come here to try on the merchandise, touch fabrics and see colors,” Phillips said. “Items also can be put on hold for pickup at stores like Nordstrom, so shopping has gotten a lot more quick and convenient.”
West County’s adaptation strategy is clearly working; the mall has added several new retailers in 2017, including action sports footwear and apparel company Vans, the first St. Louis location of women’s on-trend fashion retailer AKIRA and tech device repair provider Cell Doc, with others yet to be announced before year’s end. New food offerings include Snow Factory, which offers Thai-rolled ice cream; Falafel & Grill, an expansion of the former Fusion Kitchen in the mall’s food court; and Bubble Station, which offers Bubble Tea, smoothies, soups and salads. Sweet Element, featuring ice cream, waffles, crêpes and more, adds a dessert-only option for patrons of Restaurant Village. Starbucks also opened a new concept design location inside the mall earlier this year.
With its Restaurant Village now including fine dining destinations like Bravo! Cucina Italiana, J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks & Seafood, and McCormick & Schmick’s, along with many other restaurants, West County Center has evolved into a place not just to shop, but to celebrate.
“The mall isn’t just a collection of stores, but a place you can bring your family and friends for events like birthdays, graduation parties and proms, and that entertainment aspect is an important trend,” Phillips said.
To mark its 15th anniversary, West County Center will hold a special five-day celebration, Sept. 20-24. The event will begin with a special proclamation by Lahr and include discounts at many mall retailers, free live music and children’s activities in addition to daily prize giveaways, including one grand prize of a luxury trip to Cancun, and more.
Daily special events
Celebrate 15 years since West County Center’s grand reopening with 15 free events, offering fun for every member of the family.
Hear fantastic live music from popular local groups including Scott Laytham & Karl Holmes, Arvell Keithley Duo, and Dave & Them Duo; bring the kids to meet Clifford, Curious George and Elephant & Piggie from the popular children’s books by Mo Willems; look into a crystal ball with a fortune teller, and so much more.
Food-A-Palooza also is back on Sept. 21 for a second year by popular demand. Join fellow foodies at this free event in Restaurant Village. It’s a fun evening of networking and visiting while sampling tasty food from West County’s favorite restaurants.
Caring for the community
In addition, to mark National Hunger Action Month in September, guests can “shop” for food to benefit area nonprofit Food Outreach. Visit the food court space across from Subway, or bring food to donate, from Sept. 22-24 during the times noted on the Schedule of Events.
Throughout the 15th anniversary event, register to win one of several great prizes near Nordstrom. The grand prize is a trip for two to the crystal-clear water destination of Cancun, Mexico, sponsored by Brentwood Travel, Apple Vacations, and Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun. Other daily prizes include a pair of tickets to “Crystal” by Cirque du Soleil, coming to the Family Arena in November; a pair of Swarovski Crystal earrings valued at $100; and gift cards from West County Center retailers, including Great American Cookies, Harry & David, J. Jill, Watch Technicians and more.
The first 50 shoppers to visit Mall Customer Service and show $100 in mall shopping receipts each day also will receive a pair of Swarovski crystal earrings valued at $100, while supplies last.
Guests who stop by Mall Customer Service also can receive free rock candy crystals while supplies last each day [no purchase necessary].
From Sept. 11-24, text CRYSTAL to 444222 for a chance to win a 15th Anniversary prize package valued at over $350. All prize drawings will take place on Sept. 25.
Special mall discounts
Enjoy special discounts from great West County Center retailers throughout the 15th anniversary celebration, including Bravo!, Di Olivas, Dressbarn, Eddie Bauer, H&M and a growing list of others.
Visit ShopWestCountyCenter.com and search Anniversary for the complete list of discounts and follow West County Center on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for up-to-date information.