If you’re looking for a new local shopping experience, you may be surprised to find it in a mall as large and internationally recognized as West Edmonton Mall. But thanks to the new RAAS Market, Edmonton-based retailers have a unique way of sharing their products with a new audience. RAAS offers turnkey retail space for local makers who want a low-risk opportunity to sell in a larger mall space but can’t afford the larger leases.
Mark Ghermezian, who helped develop the concept, says, “The mall has done a great job of bringing in retailers from around the world that normally wouldn’t come to Edmonton, and we have the latest attractions and everything here.” But the desire was there to support the local makers, as he explains, “We noticed there was so much great entrepreneurship and a community [in the city], and if we can unleash them in some way, it’d be a great thing to do.”
The feel of the space is different from the rest of the mall. Each retailer has their own white rectangle, cube, or triangle, which they can customize with their products, and RAAS provides them with a branded sign and all other shelving and sales equipment they need. Ghermezian says some shoppers feel that entering RAAS is like stepping outside of the mall and perhaps into a European alleyway.
Popular retailers who’ve tried out the experiment and expanded their business into the mall include Pura Botanicals, which sells natural skincare and beauty products; Adesso, a men’s accessories line; and Apollo Originals, stylish streetwear fashions. Shoppers will certainly be surprised by the incredible range of products made right here in Edmonton. “We’re trying to create a place where we can unleash this creative community of locals in a really exciting way,” says Ghermezian. “It’s a unique shopping experience to meet the founders and the makers of these products.”
Visit their website to learn more about the RAAS shopping experience.