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St. Louis Chosen as First City to Search for “The Next Big Thing in Retail”

St. Louis Chosen as First City to Search for “The Next Big Thing in Retail”

While traditional retailers are closing, online retailers are opening retail locations, and real estate mavens are trying to figure out the next big thing, New York-based Cohen Equities, owner of The Meadows at Lake St. Louis, announced today that they will test RetailNEXT in St. Louis to find, mentor, and launch one or more new retail concepts to open as soon as the 2019 Holiday Season at The Meadows at Lake St. Louis.

RetailNEXT is searching for the next big thing in retail presented by an existing brick & mortar retailer, online retailer, or start-up currently in business who will win free rent up to one year along with the support of several high profile mentors/judges (e.g. Shark Tank), mall management, and retail marketing experts. After each entrepreneur/team submits his/her concept, meets with the judges, and does a final 10-minute presentation, the best concepts will be voted on by the greater St. Louis community via social media. The winner, who the judges and community feel have the best chance of success, will be assisted in launching their concept at The Meadows in Lake St. Louis. The goal is to accelerate successful concepts that will work, not only for the entrepreneurs, but also become a model for malls to find future tenants – in St. Louis and beyond.

While the prize of free rent and build out may appear to be the biggest draws, the most compelling reason for entrepreneurs is to get in front of the high-profile judges, including:

  • Maxine Clark (Founder, Build-A-Bear Workshop),

  • Meir Cohen (Chairman/CEO, Cohen Equities)

  • Norty Cohen (CEO, Moosylvania)

  • Mike Donovan (Principal, Balke Brown Transwestern)

  • Emily Lohse-Busch (Executive Director, Arch Grants)

  • Jawana Reid (Event Manager, St. Louis Magazine)

  • Brian Richardson (Host, KFAV/The Viper)

  • Susan Sherman (Co-Founder,  Saint Louis Fashion Fund)

  • Martin Sneider (Retail Professor, Washington University)

  • Stacy Taubman (Founder/CEO, RISE Collaborative Workspace)

  • Eric Thoelke (Executive Creative Director,  Toky Branding + Design)

  • Mark Zorensky (President, Hycel Properties Co.)

Specifically, judges will be looking for:

  • A new concept presented by an existing brick & mortar retailer, online retailer, or start-up

  • An idea with the possibility to be the next big thing in retail, attract attention/traffic/sales to the retail location

  • A concept with a high likelihood of success at The Meadows at Lake St. Louis

  • Leader/team has relevant experience, entrepreneurial drive and adequate financial backing to start and sustain a business

  • A sensible plan to staff the location, buy & manage inventory, and manage cash & credit card sales

  • Willingness to do whatever it takes – including bringing on investors – to make their concept grow

  • Concepts need not be traditional retail concepts, but rather ones that will do particularly well in an outdoor shopping, dining, entertainment venue with both on-premise and nearby residential communities

Key Dates

  • Call for Entry Media Announcement: May 21

  • Campaign rolls out: outdoor, social, online, (radio & tv), posters, partner emails May 28

  • Contestant Workshop: July 25

  • Deadline for entry: August 16

  • Entry review and finalist selection: Week of August 19

  • Event: Final Presentations to Judges: September 5

  • Live Event/Community Judging: September 10

  • Announcement of Winner: Week of September 16

  • Buildout: 2 months min, 6 months max

  • Grand Opening: Holiday (prior to Black Friday) or March/April of 2020


Qualified contestants interested in pitching their concept should do the following:

  • Go to www.themeadowsatlsl.com/retailnext to learn more about RetailNEXT

  • Fill out entry forms

  • Start working on plan and presentation

  • Get ready for the “big pitch” in August

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