The practice of filling vacant storefronts with temporary tenants is a win-win for both retailer and developer. It allows a retailer to try out a location without having to commit to a long term lease and it provides a landlord with an income stream while they seek a long term replacement tenant. It looks better than a vacant space too.
I asked Mike Johnston, one of the owners of Ellicott City Motorsports, how the mall experiment was going. He told me that, at a minimum, it definitely helped increase exposure for his business on Bethany Lane. It also gave him an opportunity to test market an expanded offering of apparel and accessories. Though sales of these items have not been as strong as he would have liked, he thinks timing may have something to do with that. He believes that had he been open during the Christmas season sales of these items would done better. That being said he still said overall it had been a worthwhile endeavor.
It gives the guys a place to hang out for awhile too.