MAYS LANDING - Shoppers at the Hamilton Mall might have noticed some subtle changes since the mall finished its second phase of redevelopment this year.
Besides the new "junior anchors" Forever 21 and H&M and the stand-alone restaurants Buffalo Wild Wings and Longhorn Steakhouse, the mall this week unveiled its newly remodeled Food Court.
And just in time for Santa Claus, who made his season debut on Nov. 9.
"We removed a large kiosk to give people more visibility to the surrounding stores and raised the ceiling height by taking up the bulkhead a bit," said mall manager Bill Schu.
Contractors installed new lighting, painted the walls a warm sandstone and redid the floors with a new boardwalk befitting a mall that serves a resort population.
"It shows the owner's commitment to redevelop the mall," Schu said. "The mall is just like your house. You have to refinance periodically. We renegotiated a loan that included funding for our redevelopment."
The mall is owned by Kravco Co. LLC, of King of Prussia, Pa. Under the third phase of redevelopment, beginning early next year, the mall will start construction on as many as 15 new stores with their own individual entrances in what the mall describes as a streetscape project along its front, facing the Black Horse Pike.
Meanwhile, tenants in the mall are taking advantage of the shuffle to move into larger spaces.
"We built some new space, moved a lot of stores around, such as Pac Sun. There were a lot of Monopoly pieces moving around," Schu said.
One of those pieces, the popular boutique Never Too Spoiled, is moving into a larger space to accommodate its growth.
The store, founded by Absecon native Lolly Galvin, started in the summer retail sheds at Gardner's Basin in Atlantic City. Today, Galvin owns the store in the Hamilton Mall along with a second one in Philadelphia.
She also has opened a third, unrelated store selling housewares next to her Never Too Spoiled location on North Second Street in Philadelphia's Old City section.
"I've always liked fashion a lot," the Holy Spirit High School graduate said. "I guess growing up in Absecon has given me the roots of comfortable fashion. Everyone is a little more laid back by the beach."
Galvin studied communications at LaSalle University before using credit cards and support from her parents to open her shop in Atlantic City. She gets daily feedback from customers about the fashions she sells in her stores.
Galvin said the key to success is learning from your mistakes.
"I have a pulse on what people like or don't like, not just in clothing but in jewelry - all sorts of things," she said. "That just comes with experience. It's not something that can be taught."
She splits her time between her stores in Philadelphia and Mays Landing.
"The mall is going through a big change. We're moving to a larger space. That's something I've wanted to do for a long time," she said.
Galvin said she often sees old friends from Absecon at her shop.
"What is nice about coming back to the mall is seeing familiar faces growing up. That will always be a pleasure in going back to that store," she said.
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