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Younkers tests two-store format at Meridian Mall.

In an effort to offer its Lansing, Mich.-based customers an extended line of products, Midwest department store chain Younkers agreed to house two of its stores at the same location β€” CBL & Associates Properties' 977,000-square-foot Meridian Mall. The chain already operates a 93,000-square-foot store at the center, but in the fall of 2008, it will open a new division at a former Mervyn's department store space. The expansion will bring Younkers' total space at the mall to 168,000 square feet.

Currently, the dual-anchor format remains a rarity in the retail industry β€” Dillard's, which pioneered the strategy in the 1990s, and Macy's both operate a handful of such locations, but by and large, department store chains stay away from them. Younkers' management, however, doesn't view the doubleheader as a problem because the two locations will target different customers. The existing store will focus on women, while the new version will house products for men and children, as well as home furnishings.

The move will also help CBL fill up space left over from Mervyn's after that chain chose to exit Michigan in 2006. The Mervyn's store has remained vacant for a year and a half, according to published reports.

β€œOne of our goals is to respond to the wants and needs of the market area and we are confident that Younkers' expansion will do just that,” said Stephen Lebovitz, president of CBL, in a prepared company statement.

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