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SOUTHLAND MALL EVOLVES WITH THE TIMES

By now, just about everyone locally knows about Southland Mall.
The mall opened in 1969 and has served as a retail center for Terrebonne Parish and beyond with tentacles that reach into Lafourche, St. Mary and the River Parishes, as well.
But folks outside of the decision making circle at the business don’t realize the constant work that Southland Mall does to evolve and change with both the local economy and also national retail trends — an ever-changing fight that has helped keep the mall relevant and ahead of the curve.
Southland Mall is now 50 years old — a milestone achievement that officials say is a testament to the people in the area who have supported the mall since it’s opening.
But it’s also a credit to mall staff who keep the facility stocked with stores that matter most to those locally, a process that Southland Mall General Manager Dawn Becker said is ongoing, but fulfilling — a true labor of love.
Southland Mall features two department stores and more than 60 national and local retailers — including the popular H&M.
“A combination of factors goes into our Leasing Team’s efforts,” Becker said. “This includes which stores are exploring new locations and which ones are interested in being in our market that create synergy with existing shops and also meets the needs of the community.”
The mall has invented and re-invented its offerings several times since opening its doors — including several expansions along the way.
The mall opened in Feb. 1969 during the oil and gas boom that was taking place at the time.
The facility was always at its current location and it was created to give shoppers a one-stop retail shop. The mall was started by New Orleans-based developers Sizeler Management Company.
The inaugural Southland Mall had one building and 14 stores. In the first lineup were Sears, K&B Drugs, Kirshman’s, F.W. Woolworth, Winn Dixie and D.H. Holmes (now Dillard’s).
The first Southland Mall also had Southland Cinema, which gave people in the area a chance to see all of the latest Hollywood flicks.
The mall was an immediate success.
One year after opening, it had grown by 10 more stores. In the early 1980s, the mall expanded and added a new wing. That allowed for J.C. Penney to join the family, as well as 35 additional spaces. Since the additional wing was added, the mall has also freshened up, including several major remodeling projects.
“Southland Mall offers the most variety in the market for our shopper,” Becker said. “We aspire to provide a mix of community experiences to compliment the traditional shopping center element.”
And the mall is working hard to get even better.
Recently, the mall started its monthly Kids Club program, held the first Saturday of each month at 11 a.m. in Center Court.
The program is designed to feature fun, free activities for children ages 12 and under. Anyone interested can sign up at southlandmallonline.com.
Becker said the mall also hosts a Farmers and Artisan Market on the third Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in Center Court.
This event features local vendors who offer unique products and goods in addition to fresh produce. Attendance to this event is free and open to the public.
Interested vendors can call 985.876.4765.
Along the same lines of community wellness, the mall also now features Prime Time Fitness, run by local trainer Joel Ross.
“Joel and his staff offer personalized fitness to meet anyone’s fitness goals from school ages to senior citizens,” Becker said.
And this fall, Spirit Halloween will also take root in the mall, occupying more than 10,000 square feet of retail space for all those who love Halloween.
Becker said where the future goes for the mall, it’s impossible to predict because things change in retail as quickly as time, itself.
But one thing that will never change is that the mall will strive to serve its clientele — the people of the Houma-Thibodaux area and beyond.
“That’s what we’re here for,” Becker said. “To meet the needs of the shoppers in the area.”

“Southland Mall offers the most variety in the market for our shopper,” Becker said. “We aspire to provide a mix of community experiences to compliment the traditional shopping center element.”
– General Manager Dawn Becker•

BY CASEY GISCLAIR

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