Malls are traditionally known as chain store meccas, but as the big-box retail industry is struggling, mall operators are looking for new ways to attract customers by diversifying their tenants. That includes renting space to locally owned businesses.
Just three weeks ago, the owner and Louisville resident Cheryl Stuck moved her three-year-old business into Mall St. Matthews. The store previously operated out of a mall in Columbus, Ind.
Stuck created the store’s name using the middle names of her two young granddaughters.
“I didn’t want to use my own name. I didn’t think it had the right ring to it,” she said. Indeed, J. Nicole has a certain je ne sais quoi.
Stuck said she opened the store originally because she struggled to find fashionable clothing that didn’t make her look or feel older.
“I would go shopping for hours and not find anything I liked,” she said.
The store caters to women in their mid-30s and older, stocking a wide variety of clothes in solids, simple stripes and some plaids that can be worn as work outfits or everyday wear.
“Initially, my goal was me, so I wanted things that I would like to wear,” Stuck said. “I wanted things that were soft, comfortable, trendy, that make a woman feel fashionable as she gets older.”
Stuck said the most popular item in the store is Slimsation brand pants, which are made out of a comfortable material, have no buttons or zipper, slim the stomach and are dressy enough for work. The pants come in various colors and fits.
J. Nicole, which is located near JCPenney, carries every size from extra small to 3X. Most clothing items range in price from $29 to $49.
“The majority of women are over a size 12, and I wanted to be inclusive,” she said. “We wanted women of all sizes to feel fashionable.”
While certain goods, like the Slimsation pants, will remain on J. Nicole’s racks, Stuck said she regularly changes many of the store’s offerings.
“When you see it, you need to get it; we may never get it again,” she said. “I don’t want to go out and see everybody wearing my shirt.”
J. Nicole employs three people and is looking to hire two to three more.