Despite Impact of Covid-19, The Meadows Searches Again for “The Next Big Thing in Retail”

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RetailNEXT Winner Will Receive Free Rent, Build-Out Allowance, Marketing Support & Coaching from Leading Experts

Despite day-to-day business interruptions caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic, The Meadows at Lake St. Louis and owner, Cohen Equities, along with career marketing entrepreneur, Craig Kaminer, announced today that they will sponsor RetailNextSTL again in 2020. The competition likens itself to Shark Tank but focuses on attracting new ideas in retail and transforming the retail landscape.

RetailNextSTL 2020 will officially launch on Thursday, April 2, 2020 and entries will be accepted through midnight on May 15th. Deadlines and key dates are subject to change due to Covid-19. Contest details and entry forms are available on Once an entry is received by RetailNextSTL, it will be reviewed by judges and mentors ( If the idea is selected, the contestant will be assigned a mentor to finetune the concept, strengthen the business plan, and prep for the live presentation which will take place this summer. The top five concepts will be voted on by the general public and the winner will be announced by late June. The winner’s retail location will open on, or before, November 1st at The Meadows.

According to Alysia Kerkove, General Manager of The Meadows, “Despite mandatory store closures, there are thousands of people not working and planning what they will do when things get back to normal. We hope that RetailNEXTSTL 2020 will be an opportunity for them to think about the better times to come and make their entrepreneurial dream come true at the same time.”

Last year’s winner, Leslie Magrew, founder and star “maker” at Generations Revival and finalist, Lydia Crespo, founder and designer at Cozy Shop by Argaman&Defiance, both opened retail locations at The Meadows at Lake St. Louis prior to the holiday season in 2019. Now both are up and running, offering: DIY workshops, craft clubs, retailing their own designs, and representing more than 20 other St. Louis makers. “Makers at the Meadows” is quickly gaining momentum as The Meadows focuses on experiential, entertainment, and lifestyle retail trends.

The prize of free rent, build-out, mentoring, and marketing is valued at more than $100,000. According to Magrew, “More than the money, this opportunity has inspired me to try new things, offer new classes, expand online, get involved more in the community, and introduced me to successful retail entrepreneurs. While everything has not gone exactly as I had expected, the learning has been invaluable.”

Last year, more than 40 retail entrepreneurs competed for the chance to win free rent, build-out, mentoring, and marketing for a year at The Meadows at Lake St. Louis. Not only did Leslie Magrew win the judges over, she also generated over 10,000 votes on social media.

RetailNextSTL is searching for “The Next Best Thing in Retail” presented by an existing brick & mortar retailer, online retailer, or start-up who will win free rent and build-out allowance, along with the support of several high profile mentors/judges (e.g. Shark Tank), mall management, and retail marketing experts. After each entrepreneur/team submits his/her concept, meets with the judges, and does a 10-minute final presentation; the best concepts will be voted on by the greater St. Louis community via social media. The winner, who the judges and community feel have the best chance of success, will be assisted in launching their concept at The Meadows at Lake St. Louis. The goal is to accelerate successful concepts that will work, not only for entrepreneurs, but also become a model for retail owners to find future tenants – in St. Louis and beyond.

Confirmed Judges    
Khalia Collier - Owner/GM, St. Louis Surge Women's Professional Basketball
Meir Cohen - Chairman/CEO, Cohen Equities
Norty Cohen - CEO/Founder, Moosylvania
Ellen Mannion - Vice President Commercial Brokerage, Balke Brown Associates
Drea Ranek - Owner/Found, Lusso - Luey - 2LU
Kathy Schweikert - Mayor, Lake St. Louis
Susan Sherman - Founder, St. Louis Fashion Fund and MERCH
Martin Sneider - Retail Professor, Washington University
Stacy Taubman - Founder/CEO, RISE Collaborative Workspace
Toby Warticovschi - Partner, Millstone Capital Advisors
Mark Zorensky - President, Hycel Properties Co.

Confirmed Mentors    
David Drier - Executive Director, Pedal the Cause
Mark Hollander - Executive Director, Vision St. Charles County Leadership
Angel Magasano - Founder/Executive Director, Little Black Book: Women In Business
Sue McCarthy - Founder/CEO, Vault Luxury Resale
Adam Novik - Entrepreneur, Owner of Tailored Auto
John Omaresemi - St. Charles County Center for Advanced Professional Studies
Dan Tripp - St. Charles County Center for Advanced Professional Studies
Toby Warticovschi - Partner, Millstone Capital Advisors

Specifically, judges will be looking for:

A new concept presented by an existing brick & mortar retailer, online retailer, or start-up
An idea with the possibility to be the next big thing in retail, attract attention/traffic/sales to the retail location
A concept with a high likelihood of success at The Meadows at Lake St. Louis
Leader/team has relevant experience, entrepreneurial drive and adequate financial backing to start and sustain a business
A sensible plan to staff the location, buy & manage inventory, and manage cash & credit card sales
Willingness to do whatever it takes – including bringing on investors – to make their concept grow
Concepts need not be traditional retail concepts, but rather ones that will do particularly well in an outdoor shopping, dining, entertainment venue with both on-premise and nearby residential communities

Qualified contestants interested in pitching their concept should do the following:

Go to to learn more about RetailNEXT
Fill out entry forms
Start working on plan and presentation
Get ready for the “big pitch” in June


The Meadows is an open-air shopping, dining and entertainment plaza at Lake St. Louis Boulevard off Interstate 40. The inviting, beautifully landscaped campus is unrivaled in the greater St. Louis area. The Meadows blends shopping with pleasure as national retailers share space with culturally distinctive merchandise and nonstop attractions in a family and community-focused environment. The high-quality shopping experience is enhanced by brick-lined sidewalks and plazas which create a walkable, invigorating environment, with abundant light, parking and accessibility. The most popular and sought-after retailers include Von Maur, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Old Navy. The Meadows is owned by Cohen Equities, managed by Balke Brown Transwestern, and leased by L3 Corporation.


Cohen Equities is an institutional-grade, vertically integrated real estate investment platform headquartered in New York City with an exceptional investment and management track record that spans over 30 years. Cohen Equities has successfully invested in, managed, enhanced and harvested assets in over 30 states, under a full range of investment strategies, asset types and transaction structures.


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Alysia Kerkove
+1 (636) 695-2629
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Craig Kaminer
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