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WNY malls: where to shop this holiday season

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Posted at 2:00 PM, Nov 17, 2021

Pop into “Corner Gifts and Treasures” inside the Eastern Hills Mall and you’ll find a little something for most anyone.

“Our theme is: if it’s brand new, we’ll sell it,” said store owner, Pamela Ervolina.

Ervolina and her husband, Ron from Cheektowaga own the seasonal store front.

“This is our little vacation money so that we can take off in January and go to Florida for the winter,” she explained.

Russell Folton is the mall general manager. He said Pam’s store is one example of the majority of businesses now setting up shop at Eastern Hills.

Currently, the mall has just two vacant store fronts available for rent. All the rest are occupied. 90% of the stores are local vendors. Fulton said local flavor is the secret to the mall’s success.

“We’re not what you think of when you think of a mall. We’re a town. When you see the local merchants, shoppers and what we offer. It really is just more of a town. I guess I don’t want to be the general manager. I want to be the mayor,” Fulton told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ali Touhey.

The Boulevard Mall in the Town of Amherst has more national stores compared to Eastern Hills. The occupancy rate is less at about 80%. Boulevard Mall General Manager Amanda Baumler said she and her team have been working to improve that for the holiday rush. “We’re partnering with a lot of local vendors that are going to be popping up this holiday season selling anything from custom shoes to custom t-shirts”

That includes locally owned cookie shop, Heavenly Little Bites. Karema Rogers opened the bake shop last month. She said sales have been good so far.

“They’re stopping in and they’re like we’ve seen you at Farmer’s Markets so it’s been great,” said Rogers.

The Walden Galleria which is the largest shopping center in Western New York didn’t respond to our requests for an interview. It remains a mall in the traditional sense with mostly national name brand stores. It’s unclear how many stores are vacant at this time.

Representatives for the McKinley Mall also didn’t respond to our inquiries, but we do know the Hamburg Town Zoning Board is looking into the addition of “Echopark,” a Carvana-esque company, which is interested in using the old Pier-1 building and property for a car delivery center.

McKinley Mall is also hosting a farmer’s market with local vendors every Saturday through December 18.