Keeping track of what stores are in, what's out and what has moved where at Fayette Mall this year is enough to make a shopper's head spin.
By the end of the year, more than 20 percent of the mall's specialty-shop space will have been remodeled or have something new in it, General Manager Myron Worley said.
Among the newest additions are J.Jill, which opened in late September; Forever 21, scheduled to open next month; and House of Hoops, which will join Foot Locker in a renovated space that was previously occupied by Foot Action, which has moved into Foot Locker's old spot.
And that's just the end of a chain reaction of moves and renovations throughout the mall that has resulted in new stores including the boutique-ish Francesca's Collections and pet-accessory store Moochie & Co., and new looks for Victoria's Secret, Ann Taylor, Gap, The Limited and a number of other mall specialty stores.
It's been seven or eight years since the mall has seen this much movement, Worley said. At one point, he said, he had to have a spreadsheet to keep up with what was moving where and when.
Jesse Tron, spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers, said such renovations are happening nationwide as retailers look to keep current in a weak economy.
"That's certainly a trend," he said. "There really isn't much new development occurring in the industry. They're updating their stores. They're updating their shopping centers."
He said many stores have changed their real estate criteria post-recession.
"Some might be looking for a smaller footprint, others larger," Tron said. "People are still trying to re-evaluate."
Much of the turnover at Fayette Mall, Worley said, is cyclical: individual stores' leases expire or national chains go out of business.
As that happens, the mall can tweak its mix of stores, adding specific retailers that customers have asked for.
What isn't typical about Fayette Mall is that it is 100 percent leased and has been for years, Worley said.
Tron said that's quite an accomplishment in this economy.
He said a shopping center is considered healthy if it is at least 90 percent leased.
Worley said Lexington is known for being somewhat insulated from the economic swings that have been felt nationwide.
"It's a pretty great market," he said. "We've just been able to keep that ... momentum going."
Mall management, he said, is happy with its mix of sought-after retailers, including Apple and Coach. It is just in a constant state of tweaking.
"There aren't that many stores that we don't have," Worley said. "We kind of know who it is we'd like to get."
That's because people aren't shy about sending emails, stopping by customer service or otherwise making contact to let management know which stores they think the mall "needs."
Often, Worley said, it's just a matter of waiting for a space to open up.
The new J.Jill store, which opened late last month, is a great example of that, Worley said.
Getting the frequently requested women's clothier into its spot was "a five-store dance" that began when bebe's lease expired and that store closed.
Then Arden B. moved into the space temporarily, because Caché was going to take its old spot. Arden B. is now in the former Caché space.
Finally, J.Jill moved into the original bebe spot across from Coldwater Creek and near Macy's, which Worley said works well because the three stores all appeal to the same type of customer.
Another major switcheroo made possible the addition of the trendy Forever 21, which Worley said customers also have asked for often.
"They're sort of on the ascendancy in the retail world," he said.
Forever 21 is scheduled to open in mid- to late November in the space formerly occupied by Gap, which moved into a space formerly occupied by Limited, which moved into a store formerly occupied by Cardboard Heroes, and Guess before that. It makes sense why Worley kept a spreadsheet.
"It's going to be a significant grand opening," Worley said. "There's a lot of pent-up demand for that brand in this market."