Owners use social media to breathe new life into an old shopping center

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Winchester Court Shopping Center is almost filled with new businesses and it’s all because of a Facebook post.

The new owners used social media along with offering reduced rent to attract new tenants.

They are trying to breathe new life into the old shopping center in Hickory Hill.

Co-owner Ben Hamd said there were 15 to 20 openings on Dec. 16 when they first posted the attention-grabbing “Free rent? Cheap rent?” ad on Facebook.

It got a lot of traction quickly, with almost 300 comments and more than 500 shares.

“We didn’t expect this amount of interest. We had to hire three local leasing people,” he said, “We had to hire someone to respond to all the messages.”

Less than a month later, Hamd told FOX13 they’re down to three spaces left on the property including one building that used to be a McDonald’s. Hamd said they’d like to get a small fast food owner in the space.

He said many of those new tenants are small businesses and even some first-time entrepreneurs.

“You never know who’s going to build the next chain, who’s going to build the next business or very least open a business that’s sustainable where they can create wealth for themselves and their families,” he said.

The ownership team is also taking a chance on new talent to help them manage the property including Memphian Daphene Shouman.

She has seen firsthand how grateful people are for this opportunity.

“It’s so hard for so many people to get that opportunity and for them to come along and open the doors for so many people who have good businesses, good ideas that may not able to pass the credit part or can’t afford it and this comes along it’s a blessing to so many people,” she said.

The owners said they’re also working to give the entire shopping center a facelift. That includes adding LED lights around the parking lot and tackling potholes. The said they plan to start the improvements in the spring.

The center already has some major staples like CVS, Memphis Furniture and the Farmer’s Market and soon Half Priced Bargains will be moving into one of the larger spaces. The owners say the chain already has four stores in Tennessee.