The Rogue Valley Mall has announced that new stores are on the way.

The Rogue Valley Mall has announced that new stores are on the way.

Just Sports, rue21, Epris and Wetzel's Pretzels are preparing for imminent openings, in what Rogue Valley Mall General Manager Jeff Barber says could be a sign of improving times.

"We believe these first-to-market retailers will further solidify our standing as the premier shopping destination in our market," Barber said. "This is really the first wave since the economy started to come back."

Epris, a regional retailer based in Springfield, will open a 5,400-square-foot store in the lower level near JCPenney. Epris carries women's and junior's ready-to-wear clothing and also has a location in Salem.

Just Sports is a Puyallup, Wash.-based seller of officially licensed apparel at 28 locations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. The Medford store will be the chain's southern-most outpost, according to the Just Sports website. The company carries NFL, NBA, MLB, NCAA, and NASCAR gear and will open in September on the upper level across from Macy's Home Store.

rue21 — French for street 21— operates 770 stores in 46 states. The publicly traded firm, based in Warrendale, Pa., had revenue of $760.3 million and net earnings of $39 million in 2011. The shop offers "emerging fashion trends" in apparel and accessories for customers of all ages. The 5,914-square-foot store will open in September on the lower level across from Gap.

Wetzel's Pretzels is opening in two locations — in the food court and on a kiosk near Foot Locker. The pretzel purveyor also operates in Portland, Tigard and Eugene.

The mall is 90 percent leased heading into the fall and will be full for the Christmas shopping season, Barber said

— Greg Stiles