Submissions should be retail concepts that can drive traffic.

Cohen Equities is offering free rent, marketing support and business coaching/mentoring for the winners of a “Shark Tank”-like contest for the best retail concept. Entry deadline is Aug. 16, and the winner will be announced during an event in September. The chosen entries will be showcased at The Meadows at Lake St. Louis in time for the holiday shopping season.

The program, tagged RetailNext, arrives as traditional retailers close stores and online brands open units “and real estate mavens are trying to figure out the next big thing,” Cohen Equities said in a statement.

RetailNext is searching for the next big thing in retail presented by an existing brick-and-mortar retailer, online retailer or start-up…[that] will win free rent up to one year along with the support of several high-profile mentors/judges [e.g. ‘Shark Tank’], mall management and retail marketing experts,” the company added.

The judges include Maxine Clark, founder of Build-a-Bear Workshop; Meir Cohen, chairman and chief executive officer of Cohen Equities; Norty Cohen, ceo of Moosylvania; Mike Donovan, principal at Balke Brown Transwestern; Emily Lohse-Busch, executive director of Arch Grants; Susan Sherman, cofounder of the Saint Louis Fashion Fund; Martin Sneider, retail professor at Washington University, and Stacy Taubman, founder and ceo of Rise Collaborative Workspaces, among others.

“After each entrepreneur/team submits his/her concept, meets with the judges, and does a final 10-minute presentation, the best concepts will be voted on by the greater St. Louis community via social media,” the company explained. “The winner, who the judges and community feel have the best chance of success, will be assisted in launching their concept at The Meadows in Lake St. Louis. The goal is to accelerate successful concepts that will work, not only for the entrepreneurs, but also become a model for malls to find future tenants — in St. Louis and beyond.”

Some of the guidelines include submissions that will drive traffic and will “likely succeed” at The Meadows at Lake St. Louis. The organizers said the leader and team should have “relevant experience, entrepreneurial drive and adequate financial backing to start and sustain a business” as well as a “sensible plan to staff the location, buy and manage inventory, and manage cash and credit card sales.”

And, most importantly, the applicants must possess a “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, an entertainment venue with both on-premise and nearby residential communities,” the organizers added.

The Meadows at Lake St. Louis features retailers and brands such as Old Navy, Von Maur, the Nike Factory Store, Victoria’s Secret and Bed Bath & Beyond. The site is owned by Cohen Equities and managed by Balke Brown Transwestern. Leases are managed by JLL.