Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Do SouthPark's comings and goings signal anything more?

Last week I wrote a short story about some new stores coming to SouthPark - but what's just as telling is the flip side of that equation: The merchants they're replacing. Yes, stores turn over all the time, even during a boom, but just about all malls have been wrestling with increased vacancy in the recession. Luxury-oriented centers like SouthPark aren't exempt, and it looks to me like the downturn is bringing a somewhat wider economic mix of stores into a mall known for its concentration of high-end tenants.

The last time I was at the mall - about a week ago - the former Bob Ellis Shoes space near Nordstrom was filled by a artisan crafts-type store that looked like it might be a temporary occupant. Bath and body products purveyor Crabtree & Evelyn, which closed stores in the wake of a bankruptcy filing, will be replaced by a Yoforia frozen yogurt location. The former Cache Luxe, next to Aveda, will soon become home to Charlotte's first True Religion jeans store - granted, not exactly a bargain-basement outlet, what with jeans selling for $200 and more. (Cache, which still operates its namesake store at SouthPark, is thinning its roster of the Luxe stores nationwide, not just here.)


The closing of Carlyle & Co. jewelers, a Greensboro-based chain that went out of business entirely, and upscale women's boutique Intermix have also left vacancies at SouthPark recently; it's as yet unclear what will fill them. Intermix was an interesting case - a high-end, fashion-forward store that's well-established in other cities, it came to Charlotte in the spring of 2008, not long before - well, you know what happened in the economy.


Does it mean that SouthPark's luxury luster has dulled? I don't think so. But it does speak to the ways that the recession has dampened high-end spending and hit mall-reliant retailers across the country and locally, leaving newer, smaller high-end markets on the bubble.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

In a vacuum, these changes might say something about the state of upscale shopping in the CLT. However, these specific closings seem to be more a reflection on these ill-managed companies than they are of the mall and Charlotte in general. That they were replaced by lower end stores is simply a smart decision by Simon Properties to keep storefronts open and traffic flowing in tough times. Besides, these are small filler stores. The anchors are the ones to watch.

Now if Nordstrom closed and was replaced with a Burlington Coat Factory, I think we'd have cause for concern...

Anonymous said...

7 For All Mankind is opening a store in South Park. Go to their website and you will see a location for Charlotte that says "Opening Spring 2010".

Anonymous said...

Southpark was better when it had Woolworths anyway

Alysse said...

Sometimes it is just because the stores mentioned are too narrowly focused or just rude. If I went in Bob Ellis after work, they never looked at me. You see, I work in a field where I might get "dirty". So I dress accordingly. Jeans, Frye boots. Nice but casual. If I cam e in dressed for going out and fresh. I didn't have trouble, they flocked to me. Busy was never an issue, so I took my money elsewhere. So a downturn does hurt, but sometimes certain businesses were asking for it.

Anonymous said...

True Religion is a HUGE slap in the face to the mall. Terrible quality denim. Terrible styled jeans. While we're at it, let's open an Umbro store, or a store that sells just Hypercolor t-shirts. I'm sure Teva would love to open a store at South Park. Gap makes better jeans than True Religion. Walk the 3 stores over, and save yourself $200. Does the Ralph Lauren store sell RRL jeans? Those would be the only nice jeans in the mall.

Anonymous said...

i can't wait for more froyo locations. i crave that stuff, and this city barely has any tcby's. it's about time. hope yoforia's good!

Anonymous said...

Wish the malls would have more stores targeting professional women or any woman over 30 who want to look up-to-date without competing with their daughters. Stores like Chicos and Coldwater Creek are fine for some things, but often their clothes target the over 60 age group, they rarely have dresses.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully H&M opens a SouthPark store (or Charlotte store, for that matter) soon!

J said...

Oh, God forbid they should open stores that might cause Buffy to have to interact with low-level scum (definition of low-level scum - anyone who earns less than $500,000 per year).

I wish this place would just drop the pretention and require you get a SouthPark access card to enter, and include on the application for the card a proof of $500,000 income requirement so the aforementioned low-level scum wouldn't even have to worry about going in and being ignored by store employeees.