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Rimrock Mall

Shoppers enter Rimrock Mall in Billings in May 2016. 

The owners of Rimrock Mall are holding a contest to give local entrepreneurs a boost in launching their business.

Rimrock is one of four properties owned by Chicago-based Starwood Retail Partners to host “The Challenge: The Battle of the Pop” to attract locally-owned, innovative tenants to start in the mall.

Two winners will receive rent-free kiosk space in the mall for six months, which includes use of the existing fixtures and free utilities, during the mall’s busiest time of year — the holiday season.

Entries will be judged by their business strategy, creativity and likelihood of profitability at the site.

“We believe that area entrepreneurs, both new or existing concepts, and emerging brands are vital to the success of our mall and the community as a whole,” mall manager Devin Hartley said in a written statement.

The contest deadline is Aug. 21. Winners will be contacted the week starting Aug. 27.

Applicants can enter through the mall’s website, www.rimrockmall.com, by dropping off entries to the mall’s management office at 300 S. 24th St. W., or by emailing a completed application to TheChallenge@StarwoodRetail.com.

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Rimrock, Montana’s largest mall, has undergone big shakeups over the last few years, losing several retail staples while welcoming new faces, such as H&M, and large expansions at Herberger’s.

Mall officials noted that about one-quarter of their 80-plus tenants are locally owned, and they hope the contest will help add to those ranks.

Rimrock spokesman Daron Olson highlighted two other local tenants who started in these smaller kiosk spaces and graduated to something bigger.

Rhetta Peterson started in a mobile space in the mall selling purses and now operates her Sagebrush Trading women’s fashion store in a permanent space across from Herberger’s, Olson said.

Earlier this decade, Rob Ridgeway started Spontuneous, a specialty board game spot, as a mall kiosk. Last holiday season, the board game was a top seller on Amazon, a giant leap for a Montana-born brand, Olson noted.

Olson added that he hopes the contest could be a springboard for the two winners.

“It’s a creative way to reach out to some of the local entrepreneurs, maybe people who have recently opened up a business and are seeing success and need an opportunity for expansion,” he said.

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