US mall owners have been slow to change for years. But now they're trying to embrace it

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Mall and shopping center owners across the U.S. are starting to talk about change, realizing that if their centers keep the same antiquated models, anchored solely by department stores, they risk them going dark in the coming years.

Roaming the halls of the largest retail real estate conference on the East Coast this past week, put on by ICSC, were more digital brands than traditional ones. Companies that started selling goods on the web — like Warby Parker, Untuckit, Allbirds, M.Gemi and Winky Lux — were taking meetings with landlords about opening stores. Also making a big splash were new concepts like Neighborhood Goods, Fourpost, Brand Box and HiO, which are pushing a new model where a slew of brands come together in one space, on a rotating basis, to sell merchandise targeting younger generations of shoppers.

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