MOA opens unique retail space to help launch local brands

As businesses struggled with the pandemic and unrest over the summer, the Mall of America opened a space for local, minority-owned businesses to showcase their products. It’s called ‘Community Commons’ and it’s on Level 2 South near Macy’s. Since it opened in October, it’s helped grow 17 brands. This month, they welcomed in a new batch of businesses. One of the tenants, Andre Sackman, came up with his business idea during the pandemic. He began designing clothing under the brand name ‘Love Disorder’ that normalizes discussions about mental health something he never felt comfortable talking about in his youth. ARWAY Bags also calls ‘Community Commons’ home now. The founder, Marit Woods was born in Liberia. Her goal is to enact social change through art and to engage Liberian youth in the art sector. She and her team design and create beautiful custom-made bags sourcing their materials from Liberia. And casual wear is high fashion these days and Daniel Johnson is all about the sweatsuit with his brand, LVLS House of Hoodies. Johnson had a store on Lake Street but rioters burned it down during the unrest. He now has two locations, one in Rochester and the other in the Mall of America.

Mall of America’s Candy Cane Institute offers interactive virtual Santa experience

This would typically be the time of year malls would be bustling with holiday shoppers and kids dressed up for their pictures with Santa. But with COVID-19 restrictions in place, there won’t be any in-person visits with Old St. Nick. Still, malls are finding ways to keep the tradition alive, online. The Mall of America constructed the Candy Cane Institute, an interactive virtual experience that starts with a tour of the elves workshop and ends with a Santa visit. The cost for the 10-minute virtual holiday experience is $20 and it runs through December 24.