WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. – The Lehigh Valley Mall welcomed two new retail tenants amid the busy holiday shopping season.
Lovisa, a worldwide jewelry brand, and Otaku House, a store offering anime merchandise, opened in mid-December at the two-story shopping center at MacArthur Road and Route 22 in Whitehall Township.
Lovisa fills a first-level space that previously housed edible cookie dough chain Dough Life, while Otaku House operates in a second-level space that previously housed Norman’s Hallmark.
“We offer all sorts of anime merchandise – from stickers, keychains and figurines to toys, clothing and pillows,” Otaku House employee Joey Fernandez said. “We’re planning to restock soon because the past couple of weeks have been very busy.”
Lovisa, formed out of a need for “on-trend fashion jewelry at ready-to-wear prices,” was established in April 2010 and has grown to include more than 600 stores in 25 countries, according to the business’ website.
The Lehigh Valley Mall store is the brand’s first Lehigh Valley location, with other regional outposts operating in Pottstown, Montgomery County and Bridgewater and Lawrence Township, New Jersey.
The company’s trend-spotting departments worldwide take inspiration from couture runways and current street style to deliver “new, must-have styles” to its target customers, fashion-conscious women aged 25-45. More than 150 new styles are delivered to stores each week.
“We carry jewelry as well as other accessories like hair clips, scarves and bridal pieces like tiaras,” store manager Amy Cabrera said.
The openings follow a slew of other retail and restaurant changes at the Lehigh Valley Mall over the past year.
The complex, which opened in 1976 and added an outdoor Lifestyle Center in 2007, saw two restaurants close and two other retailers open in recent months.
Closures include Almost Vegan, which shuttered in late summer after less than a year on the mall’s second level (across from Lens Crafters), and Bravo! Italian Kitchen, which closed in October after a year-long comeback at the mall’s outdoor lifestyle center (next to Murphy Jewelers).
Almost Vegan, a pescatarian cafe offering wild-caught seafood, plant-based dishes and organic smoothies, first opened in 2020 on Liberty Street in Allentown.
Husband and wife co-owners Anthony and Nadia Alexander in February moved the eatery to the mall’s former Subway spot for more space and foot traffic.
Bravo!, a full-service Italian restaurant chain serving lasagna, spaghetti Bolognese and other favorites, had been a staple of the mall’s 15-year-old lifestyle center before closing in March 2020 amid the onset of the pandemic and then reopening in October 2021.
The business’ former parent company, FoodFirst Global Restaurants Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2020 following months-long troubles related to labor costs, worker turnover and several underperforming restaurants, court documents show.
Negative effects of the pandemic only worsened the situation for FoodFirst, which eventually sold 45 restaurants to Orlando-based Earl Enterprises, which also owns Planet Hollywood, Buca di Beppo and other chains.
Other recent additions at the mall include Better Life With Bry, offering natural and handmade body, home and cleaning products, which held a grand opening in September on the first level (across from Verizon Wireless); and Chrystols Shoetique, offering women’s shoes, handbags and other accessories, which opened in October on the second level (next to Country Memories).
Better Life With Bry owner Bryanna Tomkins had previously been operating her business via a mall kiosk for several months in early 2022. Natural and locally made products include body scrubs, body washes, lotions, foaming hand soap, essential oils, all-purpose cleaner and soy candles and melts.
Chrystols Shoetique, owned by Chrystol Warde, offers a wide array of footwear, including boots, flats, heels, sneakers and wedges, along with fashion accessories such as bags, gloves, scarves, fedoras, jewelry and sunglasses.
Additionally, T-Mobile is preparing to move from its lower-level spot near Boscov’s to a larger lower-level space between Better Life with Bry and L’amour in the coming months.
The new tenants join more than 140 Lehigh Valley Mall businesses, including other 2022 additions And Pose Selfie Salon (offering creative space designed for taking photos or videos), Rivals Indoor Battlefield (offering a fun and safe environment to play with Nerf Rival guns), Hamsa Exoticz (offering cool snacks and beverages from various countries), NYC Gyro (eatery offering American and international cuisines), Indian Bite (takeout eatery offering authentic Indian cuisine), Cloud City (selling games, comics and toys), Warby Parker (offering eyeglasses, sunglasses, contacts, and eye exams).