December 22, 2020
Written By: Siandhara Bonnet, Rapid City Journal / Photos by Grace Prichett
About 20 businesses found a home at Rushmore Mall in 2020, many of which opened their doors in the final months of the year.
Rushmore Mall general manager Sandy Brockhouse said the mall is changing with the times and will continue that in 2021.
“We try to think outside the box of malls in general. We are reinventing ourselves,” she said.
Brockhouse wants the mall to be like a community center that offers amenities like the dog park and services like those offered by the Social Security Administration office, which is open by appointment only during the pandemic.
Brockhouse said the mall closed for a month due to COVID-19 but all stores are open now and there's still space available to lease.
“We didn’t get hit as hard as other states and communities,” she said. “I think you can attribute that to just the great people in our community who still support all of our local businesses.”
Mountain Mudd Coffee and Espresso is just one of the newest additions to Rushmore Mall along with Barbed Wire and Lace, and Chuck Wagon.
“We have forthcoming leases that are hopefully going to be coming soon,” Brockhouse said. “We’re ready to get 2020 over with — we’re ready for the new year.”
Robo Briks & Grafix, The Ink Gallery, The Green Chili Shack, Go! Calendars and Games, and 605 Ageless Beauty Cart are some of the newest additions to bookend 2020.
Joanne Felix Kunz, owner of Robo Briks & Grafix — a store that sells Lego sets, Lego compatible bricks and minifigurines — said it’s been difficult to get inventory during the pandemic but opened its doors at the end of October.
“What we found is when the pandemic hit, people were hoarding toilet paper but then they switched to hoarding Lego, and they were buying big sets,” Kunz said. “We went from selling bulk...and mini figures to selling big sets. We couldn’t keep the sets in stock.”
To protect people in the store against the virus, only 12 people are allowed in the 2700-square-foot store at a time. Everything is spaced out to keep six feet of distance. Kunz said masks aren’t required, but are encouraged.
She also said they’re holding off on hosting birthday parties until at least January, although that’s not set in stone.
The Ink Gallery owner Cris Valle said his art-appreciation themed store has exceeded customer expectations after opening at the end of October.
The Ink Gallery is a tattoo and piercing shop that sells t-shirts, posters, canvas prints and other art designed by tattoo artists and painters.
“Not everyone wants a tattoo, but they can appreciate something on canvas that they can hang up in their living room,” Valle said.
He said this is his eighth or ninth tattoo shop and he owns Old School Tattoo in Sturgis. He said he just had to close two shops like The Ink Gallery in Colorado Springs, Colorado, due to the pandemic.
He said the mall manager and the assistant mall manager walked into his shop in Sturgis. They got to talking about his business and expanding to the mall, exchanged contact information, talked prices, and Valle said it was a “no-brainer.”
“This is more of a commercial style tattoo shop, it’s designed to be in the mall,” he said.
Valle said he and another artist do the tattoos and piercings while someone else helps with the counter. He said tattoo parlors aren’t too busy during the holidays as a general rule of thumb, but since they’re in a mall, they get enough exposure from people walking past.
Shay Renée, owner of the 605 Ageless Beauty kiosk, said she opened her first business at the mall Oct. 25. Renée sells skin and hair care products.
The skin care line has minerals from the Dead Sea and has won awards for its ability to be used by multiple skin types. She said she also sells anti-aging products that serve as an alternative to botox and plastic surgery.
“When I can take lines of puffiness off of a girl’s face and she’s crying at my kiosk, falling in love with something for something that transforms her face in front of her eyes, that’s what makes me happy,” Renée said.
She said she previously worked in the mall and there were times last year in October and November where it was completely silent. This year, though, she said she's seen a steady flow of people walking through.
Brockhouse said the mall showed significant growth in its third quarter, and that it isn’t going anywhere.