Of all shopping malls to make a big announcement while I was vacationing in the mountains, Southdale Center would not have been my first - or fifth - guess. How long can we reasonably continue to believe "redevelopment plans are in the works"? So I was indeed surprised and tickled to hear that H&M will open at Southdale this fall, with a two-level store nearly as large as the one at Mall of America. It won't make up for the gaping Mervyn's hole, but it could finally create some buzz for the way-past-its-prime mall.
Or will it? Hundreds showed up for the opening of H&M at Mall of America - but that was the first in town. When the second location opened in Woodbury, there was a much more modest turnout. We're H&M regulars now. While the news is sure to be exciting to Southdale regulars, it's unlikely to draw new shoppers the way it would were the store exclusive to the market. But, it could be enough to make other retailers take another look at the mall - which has a higher than average vacancy rate. I'll have more on that in my column this Sunday. Until then, weigh in. Does the arrival of H&M renew your faith in the nation's first covered shopping mall?