EAST RUTHERFORD — After over 16 years of false starts, the colossal American Dream Mall in East Rutherford is set to open this week.
Approximately 3-million-square-feet of entertainment and retail stores will open in phases, beginning with a Nickelodeon theme park and an ice skating rink on Friday.
But what kind of an impact will the behemoth mall have on small business? Local entrepreneurs are optimistic.
"Hopefully we can encourage people to divert to this area," said Ricky Langley, owner of a new bake shop on Park Avenue called Bars & Bites. "People do come from the city to this area already, for the bars and what have you. So hopefully we can be the silver mine between the 2 gold mines."
American Dream is anticipated to attract visitors from as far as Connecticut and Pennsylvania or beyond with an indoor snow ski slope and water park.
Blarney's Pub in East Rutherford opened for business right around the same time construction began on the mega mall back in 2003. Since then, the pub has benefited whenever major events are held at MetLife Stadium, which is right next door to American Dream.
"When the Giants are home, when the Jets are home, we get a big boost," said Jimmy Ward, the bar manager. "So I'm thinking with the additional business there, we would expect something."
Some nearby shopping centers and shopping malls may feel differently about their new competitor.
Paramus was recently named the top zip code for shopping nationwide.
But big box stores across the country are closing as in-person retail sales decline.
Bergen county already has 3 major malls and scores of shopping centers.
What impact the colossal American Dream may have on their business -- remains to be seen.