- Chief Operating Officer of West Acres
- Former TEDx Fargo speaker
- CFO at the Center for Plastic Surgery
- Active volunteer in the community
- Wife & mother
In both her professional and personal life, Alissa Adams loves creating engaging and inspiring environments and experiences that bring people together and spark joy. As the chief operating officer at West Acres Development (West Acres Regional Shopping Center) in Fargo, Alissa’s resume is nothing short of impressive. In addition to being COO of West Acres, Alissa has also been a TEDx Fargo speaker and is the chief strategy officer at the Center for Plastic Surgery, where she works alongside her husband, Nick. She is an active community member through various volunteer experiences with United Way, Gigi’s Playhouse Fargo, Hope Blooms, Giving Hearts Day, and more.
In her role at West Acres, Alissa works closely with all aspects of the organization including operations, leasing, marketing, and community engagement. The transformative power of creativity coupled with a caring approach to leadership is at the heart of everything she does. She is passionate about building cohesive teams and incorporating community, collaboration, and imagination into all aspects of her work. “It has been so fun being able to see the growth and change within the mall and our community as a whole throughout my tenure,” she said.
With the rise of online shopping and services like Amazon, some malls have been phasing out over recent years—yet Alissa says the team at West Acres has kept West Acres a relevant destination that people want to shop at and experience.
“To truly resonate, our experience has to be far more than shopping—from experiencing local art to interacting with local organizations to finding surprises around every corner with seasonal installations and events,” she explained. “We are in the business of creating experiences and memories. People want a sense of belonging and to be able to gather and feel the energy of our region. We are dedicated to being not just a mall, but a vibrant gathering space that is a reflection of our community as well.”
West Acres is locally owned and managed, which is a rarity in the mall industry. Alissa believes the local connection is key to its success, and West Acres’ owners set the mall up for success from the start with a deep connection and commitment to the community, from hosting community events to giving back to organizations and people in need.
The work of Alissa’s team is not transactional, but rather built on relationships—with current and prospective tenants, other local businesses, and community partners, which she believes is incredibly important for the organization’s success. Without a dedicated, relationship-focused, collaborative team, she believes West Acres would not be the success that it is today.
“I would also be remiss to not mention our stores as a part of this creation— they all bring their own sense of energy to our space and together create a shopping experience,” Alissa said. “We would be merely halls without our tenants, and we are grateful to have them as a part of the West Acres family.”
Alissa’s 3 Common Business Mistakes to Avoid—And How West Acres Is
1. Not Putting A Focus on People and Relationships
It takes time and effort to build a sense of community within a space. It isn’t something that can be forced. Vibrancy in malls happens with a sense of community within a team; a caring culture and collaboration, which translates into a sense of community for guests and tenants.
2. Not Being Truly Connected to their Communities
Giving back, incorporating the arts, and collaborating with other local businesses— unfortunately, over the years many malls lost sight of that. Community became something malls tapped into instead of something they celebrated. Malls would not exist without the communities that they’re within, and it is our duty to create a space that is community-centered.
3. Focusing on the Bottom Line Above All Else
This can cause some poor decision making such as cutting back in areas that impact the customer experience or saying no to ideas that don’t have a straight line to an ROI. We are able to focus on the cultural ROI of our decision in addition to truly looking long-term at how our initiatives impact our lasting vibrancy instead of simply the ROI of today.
West Acres welcomed in 2023—plus upcoming store openings to look forward to!
Commentary from Alissa Adams
Build-A-Bear: “The iconic brand opened in August near our Food Court! We love their commitment to giving back and giving guests an amazing interactive experience, and they bring something new to the mall with their product offerings.”
Lush: “We cannot wait for it to open in November, just in time for the holiday season! We always want to ensure the stores we bring into the mall align with what our customers are looking for, and this one has been long-requested! Lush carries a wide variety of handmade cosmetic products and is a trailblazer in the cosmetics industry with a focus on creating innovative products and using fresh, ethically-sourced ingredients.”
Lovesac: “Furniture and home furnishings are categories that we are currently light in, and we feel confident that LoveSac will give a good life to this category. They are well known for their state-of-the-art rearrangeable, washable sectionals, foam-filled bean bag chairs, and more. Lovesac will be located across from Express, between Cinnamon Roll Co. and AT&T.”
Aerie: “Another long-requested retailer! Aerie opened earlier this year and has been a hit with guests from day one.”
Von Maur: “This one was a big announcement for us! We are one of only a handful of malls in the country to be opening a new department store in the coming years and we are thrilled to be able to add Von Maur, the renowned Iowa-based department store, to the West Acres family in spring 2025! The store will occupy the former Herberger’s space, encompassing approximately 90,000 square feet. The store will feature an extensive selection of high-end fashion brands, including women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing, as well as shoes, accessories, beauty products, and home goods.”
Lululemon: “Although not a new store at West Acres, this highly popular brand is expanding to double in size! There is nothing we love more than to see stores thrive in our environment, and we cannot wait to see their expanded offerings and an even more amplified experience for their guests.”
Events, Partnerships, & Connecting
With a community full of creativity as Fargo-Moorhead does, Alissa loves tapping into it by partnering with artists, arts organizations, non-profits, and other community creatives to help bring the spaces in West Acres to life.
“We work to incorporate art into all that we do—from live local music to our seasonal installations and our permanent art collection,” Alissa said. “One of the best representations of this is when we have artists on site—either through events or our artist-in-residence program, where they get to directly interact with the public.”
And when it comes to events this fall, Alissa guarantees another holiday season full of fun at West Acres. Each season, West Acres adds new installations and events throughout the mall in collaboration with local artists and creative companies, and this holiday will not be an exception!
Santa’s Whimsical Wonderland will once again be back—this space is a collaboration between local artist, Emily William Wheeler and the creativity of Gathered. Their vision and creativity combine to create an intimate, magical space for those of all ages to experience a visit with Santa. “With everything we do, we don’t want it to feel cookiecutter,” Alissa said. “All of the items within the space were created or envisioned by a local artist. We are also grateful to partner with another local business, Santa Magic, which puts on visits with Santa each year.”
Alissa’s goal for West Acres is to host events that are engaging, creative, and community-focused. Her team loves partnering with organizations that have visions that align with those who are truly engaged in the community. Some amazing examples of this include partnering with Unglued on their Craft Fest, the Red River Market on their winter markets, local children’s organizations like the FM Science Museum on story times, and, of course, so many amazing local artists and creatives for workshops and other hands-on events.
“Our approach doesn’t involve executive decisions; it’s an approach that leans into the concept of ‘why not?’ We work hard to look at ideas with an open mind,” Alissa said. “We love it when others within our community come to us with concepts they think could work well in our environment. Some of our best events have been the brainchild of somebody else and as we’ve worked together they’ve morphed into amazing collaborations. We are also continuously mindful of the impact events have on our stores. Our shoppers are not our only customers, so are our tenants. We want to ensure the events we do in the mall create a positive impact on the store experience as well, including their ability to thrive within our space.
Alissa’s Top 3 Places to Shop for Holiday Gifts
- Minn Dak Market “I love this locally-owned gem! Minn Dak carries a wide assortment of local products from our region including chocolates and treats that create amazing gifts. They put together unique baskets that make gifting easy with an amazing local touch.”
- Creative Kitchen “Another local staple, the Creative Kitchen team is incredibly knowledgeable, and they have an amazing curated collection of all things cooking and kitchen. My personal favorites include their cheese counter, charcuterie accessories, local coffee, and fun kitchen gadgets.”
- Love Always Floral “The team at Love Always brings their amazing talent to the halls of the mall on a regular basis from weekly floral deliveries to jaw-dropping aerial installs. Sometimes flowers are the perfect way to show you care, and Love Always never disappoints!”
Alissa’s 5 Favorite Places to Shop at Right Now in West Acres
“I love an elevated look and Express nails it with a selection of rotating trend-forward pieces mixed with amazing basics. They’re a go-to for me when I’m looking for business casual, event looks or fun pieces for a night out.”
“Every piece I buy from Athleta I buy turns into an instant favorite. I also shop Athleta for my two daughters—their pieces are high quality and stand-up to hard-playing kiddo wear and tear. Another reason I love Athleta is that they collaborate with other organizations and businesses within our community to both give back and create fun experiences.”
“As a mom of two young girls, shopping trips often revolve around their needs. Evsie has a fashion-forward yet kid-friendly approach to their pieces. They also feature a rotation of events within their store to create a fun shopping experience for all ages!”
“Another fan favorite of both mine and my girls! Shopping with kids can be stressful, but Stride Rite makes it easy. From picking styles to measuring their feet, the team at Stride Rite is incredibly helpful. Most importantly? Their shoes are comfortable which is key. This one is parent + kid approved!”
“I’m a sucker for a good pair of denim and Evereve always has an amazing selection! I’ve recently fallen in love with their Evereve brand jeans. The team is so welcoming, and I can always count on them to help me find new pieces to add into my wardrobe seasonally or to even pick out a present for a girlfriend.”