The ShoeMart Store at the Agana Shopping Center will finally open its doors to the public on Nov. 17.

In an exclusive interview with the Journal Elizabeth Sy president of GFPP Inc. doing business as Agana Shopping Center said "SM Department Store has been a success in the Philippines; a trend we expect will continue in Guam. Our goal is to continue our long standing tradition in providing our customers with the best fashion value quality and service in diverse market and become the store of choice in Guam."

Henry Sy Sr. SM founder and patriarch of the Sy family will attend the blessing and ribbon cutting ceremony on Nov. 16 along with his children Tessie Henry Elizabeth and Hans. Expected to attend from Guam are Gov. Felix P. Camacho and First Lady Joanne Camacho; Madeleine Z. Bordallo Guam’s delegate to Congress Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron; judges businessmen senators business partners and organization heads.

With the holiday shopping season set to begin Agana Shopping Center management also confirms that the Agana Shopping Center Stadium Theatres will open before Christmas. Meanwhile the blessings of synergetic sales fill the hopes of the center’s smaller retailers who are particularly optimistic about increased theater-associated traffic.

This anchor activity has new and existing retailers vying for key locations within the mall. Since October both corner spaces across from the theater entrance have been occupied. The entertainment novelty made available at Haven Music and My Anime Shop could compliment the experience for traditional moviegoers. This alignment creates what Tes Reyes assistant general manager of Agana Shopping Center calls "retailtainment" or an environment that effectively combines retail offerings with entertainment for Guam’s family-oriented shopper.

This is precisely what attracted Peter Bruschi owner of Haven Music to his new location. He said "Because we are a music store we wanted to be close to Game Stop and the theater. We wanted to be a part of the center court activity." This is Haven Music’s second location on Guam after buying out Cheapo Music store in the Micronesia Mall. Bruschi said "We have great hopes for the shopping center and the continued revitalization of the area."

Nora K. Camacho project manager for the Hagatna Restoration and Redevelopment Authority said "The Agana Shopping Center with the addition of the theatres and SM will act as an ‘activity generator’ attracting a significant number of people on a regular basis which is beneficial for retailers in the surrounding areas."

The opening of the five-screen theater will also bring permanently expanded hours within the mall as retailers will stay open until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and until 8 p.m. on Sundays. Movie shows will be scheduled as late as 11:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday as well. This is significant for revitalization Camacho said. "Most important about the ASC is that it will attract people to HagÅtña after 5 p.m. Getting people to the capital after 5 p.m. is a key factor in the revitalization of our capital and the ASC improvements are a positive sign for the future of HagÅtña " she said.

Other stores new to the center include LG Electronics JB’s Ukulele Hut and i-Connect. Two former kiosk operators have also opted for storefront locations allowing for larger retail space. My Anime Shop is one which sells various products associated with Japanese animation. The other is Dryers Ice Cream which is moving from a 104 square-foot kiosk to a 750 square feet store. Beck Reyes supervisor of the ice cream shop said the move to their new first floor location is in response to the ongoing Phase 2 activity. "We think the increase of traffic would warrant this expansion " he said. This vote of confidence in the development of the center is also pressed by the fact that a formidable competitor Cold Stone Creamery is now on Guam.

Kimberly Nohyoung of Hairdresser by Kimberly has been open for three years on the second floor. "It will be great if the theater creates walk-ins but my business is mostly word of mouth. I just hope more stores will come when the theater opens up." When asked about ShoeMart Nohyoung told the Journal that if the mall’s center aisle connected the small retailer wing with the department store she might be more optimistic. She said "My customers generally agree that people going to ShoeMart will probably just go there and then leave the mall."

ShoeMart is certain to generate more activity for the capital village however. The 42 000 square-foot department store is expected to create about 50 jobs and will represent a dynamic shift from the shopping center polarity between the Macy’s Department Store in the Micronesia Mall and Ross Dress for Less in the Guam Premier Outlets. Just how ShoeMart will be leveraged in the marketplace is to be seen. Although this is the brand’s first foray into a western style marketplace Henry Sy Sr. has global-scale influence.

According to Therese Kamm general manager of ASC Sy’s Mall of Asia in the Philippines is among the top five largest malls in the world and ShoeMarts around the Philippines play host to bowling alleys hardware stores grocery stores and ice-skating rinks. Since Sy purchased the center in 2003 there has been over $20 million invested back into the property.

Occupancy is not yet at full capacity as this will be the next focus for ASC management after the anchor tenants are established. "Having anchor tenants is a must in a shopping center having very good anchor tenants makes it even better. The combination of three very successful anchor tenants – SM Store Payless Supermarket and Tango Theaters will certainly enhance our traffic flow and therefore improve our occupancy." Kamm said.

"" Philippines correspondent Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo contributed to this story.