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Why Carriage Crossing owners say entertainment is key to helping Collierville mall thrive



An Illinois-based firm, which specializes in retail revitalization and repurposing, has high hopes for enhancing a notable shopping mall in a Memphis suburb.

In March 2023, The Shops at Carriage Crossing in Collierville was purchased in a joint venture by Edwards Realty Company and fellow Illinois firm Core Acquisitions, a property management company, for $25 million.

The 514,000-square-foot open-air shopping mall, which opened in 2005, is home to a variety of well-known retailers including Barnes & Noble, Dillard’s and Sephora, as well as dining options like Bonefish Grill and STIX.

Ramzi Hassan, president of Edwards Realty Company, said the firm’s business philosophy is to seek out properties located in a strong community. He said the attraction to purchase the Collierville shopping center comes from the growth happening in the town, with several subdivisions being constructed along with thousands of acres yet to be developed.

To help the Collierville mall thrive, Edwards Realty officials believe several things must happen — from putting a focus on entertainment options to making cosmetic enhancements to improving communications with tenants.

Adding entertainment options at Carriage Crossing

In addition to more office and service use businesses, Hassan said Edwards Realty wants to bring more entertainment-focused business to The Shops at Carriage Crossing. One of those in the wings is Wolf River Hospitality Group’s live music venue and food and beverage concept called Neshoba.

The roughly 10,000-square-foot “Lafayette’s Music Room”-like concept is planned to open early this summer. The high-end gastropub will offer a full-service restaurant and bar, high-definition TVs and a stage for live music.

“We still want stores and retail, but we need to have more of these complementary uses to draw more traffic at different times,” Hassan said. “By having a music venue, we’re going to have more of a later-night crowd. That’s going to help the restaurants because a lot of the complaint from the public was, we have a nice dinner (at The Shops at Carriage Crossing), but there was nothing to do right afterwards to be able to see a band. Even though, we’re adding more food and a restaurant, we’re going to be bringing thousands more people in a week that are going to be coming to this music venue, so I think it is going to raise all the sales.”

Kirk Cotham is the co-founder of Wolf River Hospitality Group, which also owns local restaurant establishments Pyro’s Fire Fresh Pizza, Wolf River Brisket, Levee Creamery and Limelight. He said before Edwards Realty purchased The Shops at Carriage Crossing that he and his team initially passed on going into its current space, which was formerly the Hickory Tavern restaurant. Cotham acknowledged that his group wasn’t interested in opening just another sports bar and restaurant.

They eventually had several talks with Edwards Realty’s representatives on understanding their vision for the shopping center. The firm wasn’t interested in only filling up the shopping center again with just retail stores, Cotham said. He and his business partner Chad Foreman were confident with the new direction the owners were going in. Cotham believed adding more entertainment options can help draw traffic back to the shopping center.

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“We came up with a vision of a sports bar that would incorporate live music and they were excited about that,” Cotham said. “This is something we don’t have a lot in the Collierville area… We’re going to have a large stage and be able to accommodate large bands and a lot of people. We found them (the new owners) to be great to work with in terms of trying to re-envision what these different spaces could look like.

“The feeling we got from them is filling this back up with more retail isn’t going to work. The vision is there will be retail, but there will be entertainment and there will be things to do beyond just shopping. We’re anxious to be a part of that. The retail tenants they want to have things like entertainment because it gets people walking by their shops.”

New Carriage Crossing owners look to build trust with tenants

Edwards Realty sees a great deal of opportunity to revitalize and energize The Shops at Carriage Crossing through its hands-on approach.

“We really get to know our tenants, and we figure out who is doing well and why they are doing well, as well as finding out why tenants aren’t doing well,” Hassan said. “We’re also cognitive of having a really good tenant mix that are complementary and [those tenants] are something the community wants as well. The last thing is with retail you have to constantly invest in your properties and tenants. (The last owner Centennial Real Estate) stopped doing that, and that’s why these sorts of properties go downhill really.”

Hassan said Edwards Realty has regular quarterly tenant meetings including ownership, marketing representatives and management — all there to talk about different ways to enhance the property.

“This is like an open forum,” Hassan said. “We talk about what our initiatives are, what events we have coming up, what new tenants are coming in, any significant changes to the mall we are making along with any maintenance things coming up and any capital improvements.

“We keep them in the know, help promote them on social media and get their feedback. It’s really big to learn about them.”

Longtime tenant has high hopes for Carriage Crossing’s future

Wayne Yeh is the owner of STIX Collierville. STIX has been a tenant at The Shops at Carriage Crossing since the shopping center opened in 2005. His Asian fusion restaurant serves sushi, hibachi and regular Asian dishes. Yeh recently remodeled STIX Collierville with more open space in the dining room, while also redoing the bar, floors and tabletops.

In January, Yeh reupped with the property by signing a 10-year lease. He said a major issue with the previous owners, Centennial Real Estate, was the lack of communication by ownership to tenants. Yeh said he has seen better communication from Edwards Realty. Centennial Real Estate couldn’t be reached for comment for this story.

“I’m excited to work with the owners, and it was great to meet them in person,” Yeh said. “I was glad they took the time to come down and talk with the tenants. I feel like it’s going to be a good partnership and I feel good about the future of the shopping center.”

Yeh is also enthusiastic with what the small businesses that were part of the Edwards Realty’s Pop Up Local program are bringing to The Shops at Carriage Crossing. The firm chose five local businesses that have become permanent tenants at the retail center.

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Those businesses included Nerd Alert Retro Arcade, a vintage arcade that also sells nostalgic gifts; L.Y.E. Academy, a dance studio; Slimetastic Kids Play Lab, a children’s activity center allowing kids to create and play with slime; POPPZ Drinks & Sweets, a space offering custom-made drinks and sweets; and One Cozy Home, a home décor store.

“I think it’s great to have some businesses filling some empty spaces in the shopping center as well as providing these small businesses a chance to hopefully succeed and add to the center,” Yeh said.

Cosmetic improvements at the Collierville mall

Hassan told The Commercial Appeal that the firm has already made $1 million worth of upgrades to The Shops at Carriage Crossing, including restriping the whole parking lot which hadn’t been done for a couple years. He said Edwards Realty plans to invest between $10 million to $15 million into the mall over the next three years.

He said some of the immediate changes needed include upgrading The Shops at Carriage Crossing signage, which he described as “lackluster,” as well touching up internal signage in the mall and wayfinding signage. Hassan said Edwards Realty also plans to spruce up the landscaping around the property and change the traffic pattern. He said there have been complaints from the public about how hard it is to get into the (shopping) center, so making it easier for patrons is important.

“As we are getting customers coming back to the center, we got to make it as easy as possible for people to shop, park and get out and do what they want to do,” Hassan said. “We know people are busy, have tight schedules and almost no patience. If you make it really hard, they aren’t going to come back.”

What’s next for The Shops at Carriage Crossing?

According to Hassan, Edwards Realty concentrates heavily on marketing its properties and holding special events there. He said the firm has some different programming happening at the shopping center through the summer.

“We’re hoping that the sales and foot traffic continue to rise and the improvements we are making physically to the property are also coming to fruition and being noticed,” Hassan said. “It will be looking like a different center and hopefully the favorite staple tenants that hung around will continue to grow with us like Barnes & Noble and Dillard’s.

Hassan is adamant that for The Shops at Carriage Crossing to stay viable in the ever-changing retail and shopping center or mall landscape it must provide people reasons for going to the property.

“We’re really looking forward to bringing businesses that the Collierville community has been yearning for,” Hassan said. “We heard for a long time that somewhat of a younger demographic wants to be entertained…. We just want to provide more shopping, dining and entertainment options to the community.”

Corey Davis is the Collierville and Germantown reporter with The Commercial Appeal. He can be reached at or 901-293-1610.

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