Walking through the wings of the Greenwood Park Mall, shoppers can pick out athletics shoes, decorative candles, home furnishings and baby toys, among thousands of other items.

With 98 percent of available space filled in the mall, mall management has worked to give people a vast number of choices.

That retail diversity has only increased this summer. At Dry Goods, one of two new stores opening at the mall, people can find vintage-inspired clothing by modern designers. For a snack, they can grab some flavored popcorn or Bavarian-style pecans at Gale’s Specialty Popcorn, the other new store.

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“What it’s done is bring two very different retailers who underscore the diverse selection of stores that we have here at the Greenwood Park Mall,” said David Dawson, director of marketing and business development at Greenwood Park Mall. “It’s exciting to have them here to showcase all that we have to offer.”

The two new stores continue an upswing of activity at the mall. Nearly all of the available retail space inside the mall is filled, with only three or four units still open. In addition, businesses such as Buckle and Hollister have remodeled and reconfigured their stores during the past year, providing better access to shoppers and committing additional investment to the Greenwood locations.

The mall’s upward trajectory mirrors expanding growth and the resurgence of retail throughout the southside.

According to a study by Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate firm, the Greenwood and Southport area has a retail vacancy rate of 2.6 percent. That rate is one of the lowest of all the markets in central Indiana. Only areas such as Brownsburg, Broad Ripple, Fishers, Mooresville and Nora had a lower vacancy.

The rate on the southside has dropped steadily since last year. Vacancy was at 4 percent in September, and 3.7 percent in December.

Vacancies in strip malls and shopping centers on County Line Road and along U.S. 31 have become scarce. New construction pushes retail growth further and further south on State Road 135, with few openings available along the highway.

One of the largest retail additions in central Indiana came earlier this year when Costco moved into its 148,000-square-foot building on County Line Road. Meijer is building a store in Franklin, and new and expanded Kroger locations are scheduled to open in the next year.

Cushman & Wakefield identified the Greenwood area as an emerging market in its first-quarter retail report in 2016.

The retail success on the southside is clear when filtered through the lens of the Greenwood Park Mall. With the addition of Dry Goods and Gale’s Specialty Popcorn, the mall has reached a point where it is nearly full, Dawson said. Only a few spaces are still available, which makes for a better experience for the shopper.

“We have a goal to be at maximum capacity, and we’re very closely to reaching that,” Dawson said. “We want to provide our shoppers with what they’re asking for, and that’s been a success with all of the new stores and renovations.”

Gale’s Specialty Popcorn is an Evansville-based company which has made its name through flavored popcorn, such as s’mores, meat-lovers pizza and blueberry muffin. The business also offers traditional Bavarian-style pecans, cashews and almonds. Greenwood is only the second location for the family-owned business.

The mall’s Dry Goods store is the first one on the southside of Indianapolis, and only the second in the central Indiana region. Offering women’s contemporary designs with an old-fashioned aesthetic, the store features clothing, jewelry, gifts and accessories.

“Dry Goods is an in-demand national brand, with locations all over the country. With all of this that is going on here in Greenwood, it was a good fit,” Dawson said.

New options at the mall are exciting for both customers and management, Dawson said. But just as important has been the investment existing stores have made in the past year. Clothing retailers Journey’s, Buckle and Hollister have recently renovated their stores at the mall.

Eateries such as Blondie’s Cookies and Wetzel’s Pretzels have redesigned their outlets to invigorate their appeal, Dawson said.

On Aug. 1, American Eagle shuttered its existing store at the mall to redesign the space, making it easier for customers to shop both its flagship and Aerie brands. A temporarily location has opened up elsewhere in the mall while construction is ongoing.

“It shows a commitment to the stores’ success here in Greenwood,” Dawson said. “We’re excited to have these new upgrades and options here for the community, and when we unveil the finished renovation, we’re excited to elevate our customers’ shopping experience.”

At a glance

Greenwood Park Mall

Current mall tenants: 148

Capacity: 98 percent of retail space filled

New stores opened in July:

  • Dry Goods
  • Gale’s Specialty Popcorn

Recently refurbished stores:

  • Journey’s
  • Blondie’s Cookies
  • Buckle
  • Build-A-Bear
  • Hollister
  • Wetzel’s Pretzels
  • Hacky Shoes

Currently being remodeled:

  • American Eagle

Information: simon.com/mall/greenwood-park-mall

Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.