Potential buyers of The Pier Shops at Caesars in Atlantic City may be waiting for more certainty that the city’s gambling industry and the U.S. economy have turned around.

But small businesses are making their move now, joining the lineup at The Pier or upgrading their stores so they’re positioned for a strong summer.

The mall said this week that a mobile phone accessories store has already opened, to be followed by a combination Auntie Anne’s/Cinnabon franchise, a Bare Feet Boutique and a massage and foot spa.

“These additions demonstrate The Pier Shops at Caesars’ dedication to satisfy shoppers’ needs,” Harry Geety, general manager of the mall, said in a statement.

The most visible change at The Pier isn’t a new tenant but the renovation of the large store along the Boardwalk, It’Sugar.

The 4,300-square-foot candy retailer has completed its first major renovation since opening with The Pier in 2006, adopting a look designed to appeal to teenagers and young adults, store manager Rotasha Jackson said.

The all-pink decor for children has been replaced with a retro look in pink, yellow and blue, with six mannequins decorated with “sweet little tattoos” and candy, she said.

The biggest change, though, is the elephant in the room ... or rather the absence of one.

It’Sugar has removed the 18-foot replica of Lucy the Elephant made from Jelly Belly jelly beans — 1,050,439 to be exact — that had dominated the interior. Now there’s a more open feeling and an additional cash register.

“We’re wondering how the locals are going to take it,” said Jackson, 40, of Absecon, who started with the company six years ago as a supervisor. “We can’t wait to hear their feedback on the new look and the removal of Lucy. We’re hoping it’s good.”

The seven years since the opening of this original It’Sugar have been good for founder Jeff Rubin, of Florida. His specialty candy and gift concept has grown to 70 locations, in major cities worldwide and including 20 micro shops inside Macy’s stores.

Jackson said the store at The Pier remains the flagship of the chain. “We generate a huge share of the company’s profit.”

For a more substantial treat or snack, the Auntie Anne’s/Cinnabon store will open this spring directly across from the Apple store, not far from the Boardwalk-level entrance.

Owner David Fox, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., calls combining popular brands in one store a strong trend in franchising.

For five years, Fox has owned and operated two other popular brand stores, a Nathan's Famous and a Haagan-Dazs, nearby on the Boardwalk. He told The Press last fall that the Nathan’s location is among that brand’s Top 10 shops in the world.

Fox said he chooses new locations with care and a lot of patience. The rounded storefront, highly visible upon entering The Pier, was an exceptional match for his Auntie Anne’s/Cinnabon.

The full line of Auntie Anne’s products will include hand-rolled pretzels in many flavors and forms, freshly made on site. Besides Cinnabon’s famous cinnamon rolls, there will be a variety of Chillattas and other beverages.

The new Cellairis store in the mall nearby is the latest in a franchise chain that has grown to nearly 700 locations in North America and Great Britain in a decade.

Cellairis sells functional and fashionable cases and accessories for most brands of mobile phones and tablets.

Bare Feet Boutique is expected to open May 1 on the first level of the mall.

The boutique will be a sister store to Bare Feet Shoes in the city’s Tanger Outlets The Walk. Expect trendy footwear and accessories.

Another first-level addition will be Health Kingdom, which will offer body and foot massage by licensed therapists in a tranquil environment.

The Pier Shops at Caesars is a four-level luxury shopping mall jutting out over the Atlantic Ocean. It has been on the market since October 2011, when an investment group that includes U.S. National Bank Association acquired it in a foreclosure proceeding.

Contact Kevin Post:

609-272-7250