The first Camp Pickle is expected to open early next year, at MidCity District, a mixed-use development in Huntsville, Ala.
A new tenant that happens to be America’s fastest-growing sport is moving into vacant retail spaces in the nation’s shopping centers.
Pickleball — a cross between tennis, badminton and table tennis — has seen explosive growth in the U.S., with a growth rate over the last three years of 158.6%, according to a report by JLL. With a setting that often includes food offerings, pickleball is proving to be a fun — and potentially lucrative — “eatertainment option,” the company said.
In addition, its large footprint (as high as 80,000 sq.ft.), positions pickleball to be an attractive option for backfilling empty mall anchor space, JLL noted.
In fact, it’s already happening.
• Pickleball America has leased more than 80,000 sq. ft. in a former Saks Off 5th at Stamford Town Center, Conn.
• All-Stars Pickleball Club took over an Old Navy space at Steeplegate Mall in New Hampshire.
• A former Belk store will be the home of a 32-court indoor pickleball facility, as part of a larger redevelopment of Macon Mall, in Macon, Ga.
• ProShot Pickleball recently opened in a former Burlington space at Harbor Square (formerly Shore Mall) in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. It houses eight, full-length courts, a cafe with premade, healthy meal options, locker rooms, a retail store, and a 1,0000-sq.-ft. lounge for athletes to meet up and unwind after a game
Malls aren’t the only ones getting aboard the pickleboard train. Robert Thompson, founder of Punch Bowl Social, is planning a new concept called Camp Pickle. The locations, which will span over 50,000 sq. ft. and celebrate 1940’s camp culture, will feature 10 to 14 indoor and outdoor courts, old-school games such as duckpin bowling, and food and drinks. The first location is scheduled to open early next year, at MidCity District, a mixed-use development in Huntsville, Ala. Thompson plans to have 10 company-owned locations open by 2026.
Another pickleball concept, Chicken N Pickle, currently has seven locations with another eight planned by 2024. The locations typically combine numerous indoor and outdoor pickleball courts and a variety of lawn games with multiple bars, bier gardens, dining areas on two floors and a rooftop dining experience.