If all goes according to plan, WestShore Plaza mall should have some big-name new stores open by this holiday shopping season.
Discount fashion giant H&M is building a store at the mall and could open its doors by Thanksgiving. The store could total more than 20,000 square feet and recently took over a space once occupied by the fashion house Bebe, which mall officials note has moved to another location in the mall.
H&M tends to make its own brand-name clothes, but it also occasionally works with high-end designers such as Versace for custom-designed outfits. The tactic attracts crowds of shoppers, and the new H&M store at International Plaza had hundreds of customers camping out overnight for opening day.
Meanwhile, a high-end sunglasses boutique called N3L also should open soon. Loosely named for Isaac Newton's three laws of physics, the store is a subsidiary of Oakley, which is owned by Italian eyewear company Luxotica Group.
The store specializes in high-end sport sunglasses and offers a few novel ways for customers to experience them. There are "Explorer Chamber" wind machines in the store so customers can put on glasses and simulate how they feel in wind up to 35 mph. And there are digital mirrors that show off different kinds of sunglasses and capture photos of customers wearing their potential shades — photos they can send to friends.
N3L already has locations in about a dozen cities, including Orlando, Dallas, Denver and San Mateo, Calif.
For at least the health care enrollment season, the mall has a United Healthcare "Medicare Store," where potential customers can learn about health plans as they pick coverage for next year.
A remodeled Ann Taylor store should also re-open. The retailer nationwide has shifted retail strategies and rebuilt many stores using a smaller format that feels more like a boutique of samples rather than a store stocking deep inventory. The Ann Taylor store at International Plaza recently went through such a transformation.