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Shopping malls are synonymous with grabbing a quick bite to eat, meeting up with friends, and of course, shopping for the latest trends. But what if you could also visit adorable rescue animals, and perhaps even adopt your own furry friend!?

As the mall experience evolves, Centennial shopping centers are proud to diversify the types of pop-up spaces and specialty shops we partner with. One example is Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills, IL, where a unique and well-loved community organization has found a new spot to call home.

Orphans of the Storm, located in Deerfield, Illinois, is an animal shelter and pet adoption facility. Since 1928, they have served as a refuge to hundreds of thousands of homeless animals.

In 2019, the shelter decided to open a second location, in order to expand their mission to find homes for cats and dogs in need. That year, Orphans of the Storm began communicating with Hawthorn Mall’s Local Leasing & Business Development Manager, Sarah Phelps.

Sarah carefully monitors trends in her community and at other shopping malls. In March 2020, she noticed that the implementation of social distancing protocols coincided with a rise in pet adoptions. As people spent more time alone and at home, they began looking to animals for companionship. In fact, according to the ASPCA, in March 2020 alone, the estimated national pet adoption rate jumped from 58% to 85%!

Sarah speculated that a vacancy on the mall’s upper level would be the perfect place for Orphans of the Storm to open their second location. On February 13, 2021, the organization celebrated their grand opening, and most successful weekend adoption event to date. 4 dogs and 3 cats found their forever homes!

Orphans of the Storm has big plans for their new location! Every weekend, volunteers bring adoptable pets to the space, where families have the opportunity to interact with and adopt them. Volunteers will also host fundraisers and activities (such as gift-wrapping during the holidays). The organization plans to expand their offerings to include educational courses and intends to grow their volunteer base to staff the space more frequently and host more adoption days.

Sarah Phelps says, “We are thrilled for the opportunity to partner with Orphans of the Storm, a wonderful organization bringing joy to our customers and loving homes to pets in need.” The community has loved the new addition as well, which has brought much needed energy and activity to the mall’s long-term vacancy. Congratulations to Sarah and the Hawthorn team for finding a creative and meaningful use for one of Hawthorn's vacancies.

Centennial malls love to partner with unique retailers and organizations, like Orphans of the Storm. From pet accessories and grooming to bakeries and dog parks, we see huge opportunity to grow this category at Hawthorn, and in each of our properties’ markets across the country. Looking to expand within your own local community? Contact your Local Leasing Manager for assistance securing a space!


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122 Hawthorn Center
Vernon Hills, IL 60061
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