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How Kowalski’s Is Tapping Into the Potential of Shopping Malls

Regional grocer planning to open 2 new stores in centers, as retailers and developers rethink mall concepts
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
New Edina store - Kowalski's
A new Kowalski's Markets store will open in the ground floor of a former Herberger's department store in Edina, Minn., this spring.

As U.S. shopping malls adapt to changes in brick-and-mortar retailing, some areas that used to include department stores are now taken up by grocery stores with their own unique departments. One example comes from the Minneapolis-St. Paul market, where regional grocer Kowalski's Markets is set to open two stores in shopping centers.

As 2024 gets underway, Kowalski’s is putting the finishing touches on a store in Edina, Minn., located within Southdale Center. Housed in the ground level of a space previously occupied by the Herberger’s department store, the new Kowalski’s will welcome customers this spring. Spanning approximately 34,000 square feet, the store  at 324 Southdale Center will be an anchor in the reimagined mixed-use mall. 

Kowalski’s is also working on a store adjacent to Ridgedale Center in nearby Minnetonka that used to be home to a Sears Automotive center. That 27,000-square-foot market is expected to open in early 2025.

According to Kowalski’s co-founder Mary Anne Kowalski, the Edina store will be unveiled in late April. The Edina and Minnetonka locations represent opportunities to reach customers in new and exciting ways, she added.  “Both communities are idea because we do not have a presence there,” Kowalski told Progressive Grocer in a recent interview.

Areas within and next to shopping malls are attracting attention from grocers looking to expand their operations, especially as some of those revamped buildings include residences. A 2023 report from Coresight Research showed that occupancy rates at top malls have rebounded, due in part to omnichannel investments.

[Read more: "T&T Supermarkets Plans Mall Location in Quebec"]

Underscoring the potential for revamped, mixed-use shopping malls, foot traffic insights firm published a white paper in 2023 showing that top-tier centers drive audiences with significant disposable income. 

One of the country’s largest mall operators, Simon Property Group, recently shared that it is redeveloping a mall in Ann Arbor, Mich., to include a new – and yet-unnamed – grocery store that covers 58,000 square feet.

Operating 11 stores across the Twin Cities, Woodbury, Minn.-based Kowalski’s was founded in 1983 by Mary Anne and the late Jim Kowalski, and is currently run by Mary Anne and her daughter, CEO Kris Kowalski Christiansen.

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