Janss Marketplace may be the oldest mall in Thousand Oaks, but it’s not quite the mall of yesteryear. Gone are Sears and Sizzler, replaced by Starbucks and a self-defense studio.
While shopping centers across the country find themselves with empty space as brick-and-mortar stores close their doors, losing profits to online retailers, Janss has reinvented itself, offering fewer shopping opportunities and more actual experiences, whether it be catching a movie or a workout, dining or doing something daring like doing backflips at Defy indoor trampoline park (formerly DojoBoom).
“Since the very beginning, Janss Marketplace has been a gathering place for the community,” said Tim Murphy, senior director of marketing and technology for NewMark Merrill, which owns most of the mall.
“This all goes back to providing a destination for families to spend time together along with other community members,” Murphy said.
Of its roughly 40 storefronts, the mall hosts only 10 retailers— with one discount store, 5 Below, coming soon—plus a grocery store.
The rest, aside from a few offices, are either places to eat and drink or to partake in some type of activity. The newest of those is the Mighty Axe, an ax-throwing and beer-drinking establishment that opened this month.
Soon to join the list is MB2 Raceway, which is in the process of remaking the former Burlington Coat Factory building into a quarter-mile indoor track with electric go-karts on the bottom floor and a bowling alley and sports bar on the second floor, MB2 general manager Jared Sheff told the Acorn.
“We’re still honing in on what all we want to do,” Sheff said. “Having a place for parents to maybe have a drink upstairs while the kids race downstairs creates a space where anybody can come and have a good time.”
The general manager said the company hopes to have the raceway up and running by the end of the year. The bowling alley will be completed in a second phase with no time frame set yet.
On the food side of things, the mall most recently welcomed California Fish Grill, which opened last week as the last of three business to go into a new building built in the place of the old Hooters (Starbucks and Wingstop are the others).
Next up on the restaurant front: Pieology, which has signed a lease and is expected to open in early 2022.
While it doesn’t yet qualify as a theme park, Janss Marketplace at least strives to be a place for gathering and memory making, said NewMark Merrill president Sandy Sigal.
“As the COVID crisis comes to an end, we remain dedicated to looking for ways to improve our centers and creating a sense of community with new merchants, art, gathering places, events and capital improvements,” Sigal said.
“Having such significant leasing activity, community engagement and increased traffic at Janss Marketplace reinforces the narrative that we have always believed: that centers that become part of the community and provided opportunities for people to create lasting memories will succeed no matter the times,” said Sigal.