Northern Lights Center's future bright despite loss of REI
A major mall in Spenard is looking at life after REI, as the outfitter's Anchorage store moves about a mile east this week.
At the Northern Lights Center in Spenard, crews at the old REI location which closed Sunday are still packing up goods. The store's new location, at the Midtown Mall also along Northern Lights Boulevard, offers about 4,000 extra square feet of room.
"The space is laid out in a much more efficient manner (so) that it will be a better-for-our-customers experience, and employees experience," said store manager Mike Herzong. "It will allow us to do some new things and improve things."
REI had anchored the Northern Lights Center, taking up 50,000 square feet – nearly double the space from when it first opened its doors. The store's move leaves the mall with eight tenants.
Title Wave Books has been part of the center since 2002. Owner Angela Libal credited her store's success to being more than a place where customers can pick up something to read.
"Maybe they're picking up a movie they've been wanting to watch, but can't find it on their streaming platform," Libal said. "We have all sorts of reasons for people to come shop here."
The loss of an anchor store like REI can be a reason for other merchants to panic, but Libal doesn't believe this is such an occasion.
"It would be fantastic if it could be another local business could come in," she said. "It is a big space, so if it was a couple of businesses that came in that were looking to expand from their current location to come over to the mall, I think we have a lot to offer here."
The general manager of Northern Lights Center says the mall has is just one vacancy – the old REI space, which is already the subject of talks to fill it.
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