For Many Retail Jewelers, It’s a Mall World After All

Reports of the death of the suburban shopping center have been greatly exaggerated.For 15 years, the West Ridge Mall in Topeka, Kan., was very good to Briman’s Leading Jewelers. But in the past decade, co-owner Rob Briman could sense a change.“As the 2000s began, business started declining,” he says. “2007 and 2008 were awful years for us in the mall.”Eventually, Briman shut that store and focused on his main location downtown. Looking back, he blames the shopping center’s attempts to lure a younger demographic.“It is mostly targeted toward the 15- to 20-year-old customer,” he says. “There really isn’t much there anymore for people of my generation.”Briman isn’t the only person shunning the ­neighborhood mall. Long pilloried as soulless shrines to consumerism, malls hit tough times in the 2000s—there is even a website ( devoted to their demise. By

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