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The State of Downtown Grand Rapids Retail

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Posted

In addition to Two Choppers being closed, Van Hoeks Shoes is downsizing their space to save money and will vacate the corner of the Aldrich Building.

GR Press Article

Those are both beautiful buildings and a great location. Hopefully they will not remain vacant long.

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Posted (edited)

These vacancies are VERY prominent and will just add to the drag on Monroe Ctr created by other vacant spaces along Monroe Ctr. Hopefully it will be seen as an opportunity for someone with a great idea and some capital! With the Art Museum across the street - those spaces are prime and I can see the rents going up just for that reason.

On a related note - I was downtown on Sunday afternoon to see the Eames exhibit at the current GRAM with friends. We wanted to get a light snack and nearly everything on Monroe Center was closed. If downtown GR wants to be a contender, they need to stop rolling up the sidewalks on Sundays and get people to think differently about DT as a destination. Come on! We had money to spend and didn't get to spend it at bite, Four Friends, Olive Express, Big O's (all options we considered until realizing one after the other as we walked that they were closed.) We ended up at the City Market for a sandwich and junk food, so at least something food related was open. There weren't many people downtown either.

In comparison, I was in EGR later on that afternoon and their new retail was rockin' - Olga's was open with people sitting outside, Jersey Junction was open and crawling with ice cream eaters. Tons of people just walking around enjoying the scene.

Edited by starrfish

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Posted

yeah, sunday's downtown suck. all the closed businesses are just plain unfriendly.

if I were a business owner, I would recognize the opportunity of having at least my shop open to grab those sunday afternoon dollars.

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Posted

yeah, sunday's downtown suck. all the closed businesses are just plain unfriendly.

if I were a business owner, I would recognize the opportunity of having at least my shop open to grab those sunday afternoon dollars.

Jimmy John's is open on sunday's isn't it?

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Posted

If downtown GR wants to be a contender, they need to stop rolling up the sidewalks on Sundays and get people to think differently about DT as a destination. Come on!

In comparison, I was in EGR later on that afternoon and their new retail was rockin' - Olga's was open with people sitting outside, Jersey Junction was open and crawling with ice cream eaters. Tons of people just walking around enjoying the scene.

I'm afraid The Sabbath has never held much sway in EGR. Since the days of the old Ramona Park and other lakeside amusements, in EGR, Sunday's are for partying, not praying.

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Posted

Jimmy John's is open on sunday's isn't it?

So is Taps, McFaddens, The Black Rose, San Chez (dinner), TGIF, Beaners, Founders, and there are probably more. Strange, I was downtown Sunday and I couldn't believe how many people there were. :huh: I've been in downtown over the weekends taking photos for a couple of years now, and honestly I can see a marked difference, especially on Sundays. 6th Street Park on Sunday was BUSY, with only a couple of open parking spaces in the lot and every picnic table taken. At some point, businesses downtown will probably take the gamble and be open on Sunday, even though they may lose money.

I think Gaslight Village is different because it's right in the middle of a pretty dense residential area, as opposed to downtown. Hundreds, if not thousands of people, can walk there. Plus, the Press had a big splash about all the places opening in Gaslight Village.

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Posted

True, Jimmy John's was open - and came in handy for a fountain diet coke fix that City Market couldn't fill. Sounds like other places are open further off Monroe Center. My initial surprise was that so many places on Monroe Center were closed. Next time I'm DT I'll know what is and isn't open! Live and learn, yar!

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Posted

It is not GR but I know that more shops downtown Holland are beginning to be open on Sundays. The majority are resturaunts or coffee shops but more and more are getting on board. It is a matter of changing the mentality of the locals.

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Posted

So is Taps, McFaddens, The Black Rose, San Chez (dinner), TGIF, Beaners, Founders, and there are probably more. Strange, I was downtown Sunday and I couldn't believe how many people there were. :huh: I've been in downtown over the weekends taking photos for a couple of years now, and honestly I can see a marked difference, especially on Sundays. 6th Street Park on Sunday was BUSY, with only a couple of open parking spaces in the lot and every picnic table taken. At some point, businesses downtown will probably take the gamble and be open on Sunday, even though they may lose money.

I think Gaslight Village is different because it's right in the middle of a pretty dense residential area, as opposed to downtown. Hundreds, if not thousands of people, can walk there. Plus, the Press had a big splash about all the places opening in Gaslight Village.

The wife and I usually go to the urban mill/its a grind on sundays before walking around DT.

I agree, the amount of people really has picked up. I think it is terrific to walk through the amway and see tons of people there for a convention, or other business, that clearly aren't from Grand Rapids!

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Posted

The wife and I usually go to the urban mill/its a grind on sundays before walking around DT.

I agree, the amount of people really has picked up. I think it is terrific to walk through the amway and see tons of people there for a convention, or other business, that clearly aren't from Grand Rapids!

I was downtown, and I agree, the heart of the city is pretty dead. I did notice (for the first time on a Sunday), a half-dozen people in Beaners, talking or studying or using the free wireless internet, when I stopped in for a coffee. Also, Jimmy Johns didn't have a single open table at 3pm.

Monroe Center was dead, and the southern end of the riverwalk was more or less empty, but there was a big group of people not from this area walking and taking pictures between the convention center and the city. Things picked up closer to 6th stree bridge, and the fish ladder area was packed with families, fishermen, and others like myself out for a stroll.

I usually have downtown all to myself on Sundays - this was the "busiest" I have seen it (a very relative term, I know!), so perhaps the secret is out that there is no Sunday curfew on being dowtown :)

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Posted

cafe solace on monroe is open, along with asian x/o cuisine.

but im glad to see that the market on monroe was open, it seems that a while back that they didn't have sunday hours.

it seems like a whole host of UP's were dt this Sunday. Im sure I must have bumped into several of you w/o even noticing.

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it seems like a whole host of UP's were dt this Sunday. Im sure I must have bumped into several of you w/o even noticing.

I thought the same thing after reading these posts! Fellow Planeteers, apparently we're everywhere! If any of you saw two women and one guy walking with a Jeep stroller (two year old on board) and a blonde 5 year old sugar-buzzing about, I was in that group! :)

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Posted

These vacancies are VERY prominent and will just add to the drag on Monroe Ctr created by other vacant spaces along Monroe Ctr. Hopefully it will be seen as an opportunity for someone with a great idea and some capital! With the Art Museum across the street - those spaces are prime and I can see the rents going up just for that reason.

On a related note - I was downtown on Sunday afternoon to see the Eames exhibit at the current GRAM with friends. We wanted to get a light snack and nearly everything on Monroe Center was closed. If downtown GR wants to be a contender, they need to stop rolling up the sidewalks on Sundays and get people to think differently about DT as a destination. Come on! We had money to spend and didn't get to spend it at bite, Four Friends, Olive Express, Big O's (all options we considered until realizing one after the other as we walked that they were closed.) We ended up at the City Market for a sandwich and junk food, so at least something food related was open. There weren't many people downtown either.

...

It's a critical mass; you can't be a food court by yourself. Four Friends could have paid their October rent on Labor Day Sunday last year, when the tandem rally was ensconced at the AGP, but the staff (I think there were 6 employees then) didn't want to do it. Sam (Olive Express) has experimented with weekend hours; he says he doesn't do well on Saturdays, let alone Sundays. If you and fifty friends wanted to eat there and drink coffee, make up a petition and deliver it.

Interestingly, FF doesn't bother opening on Sunday while the ice rink is open. Too bad.

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It's a critical mass; you can't be a food court by yourself. Four Friends could have paid their October rent on Labor Day Sunday last year, when the tandem rally was ensconced at the AGP, but the staff (I think there were 6 employees then) didn't want to do it. Sam (Olive Express) has experimented with weekend hours; he says he doesn't do well on Saturdays, let alone Sundays. If you and fifty friends wanted to eat there and drink coffee, make up a petition and deliver it.

Interestingly, FF doesn't bother opening on Sunday while the ice rink is open. Too bad.

Is this the first winter that Beaners will be around downtown? If so, I can see them cleaning house on the weekends, especially when that rink is open. As the pioneers of downtown prove to be successful, it'll be a domino effect after that.

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It's a critical mass; you can't be a food court by yourself. Four Friends could have paid their October rent on Labor Day Sunday last year, when the tandem rally was ensconced at the AGP, but the staff (I think there were 6 employees then) didn't want to do it. Sam (Olive Express) has experimented with weekend hours; he says he doesn't do well on Saturdays, let alone Sundays. If you and fifty friends wanted to eat there and drink coffee, make up a petition and deliver it.

Interestingly, FF doesn't bother opening on Sunday while the ice rink is open. Too bad.

It seems like a chicken-and-egg situation to me. Retailers don't want to be open because no one is around. Well, maybe some people would be around if retailers were open. If 4 Friends sell a hundred lattes between 6 and 12 on Sunday morning, its probably not enough to pay the bills, so they stay closed.

However, I have also noticed more people around weekends that a couple years ago. When I was taking pictures last sunday around 10, I noticed several people just wandering around, or sitting on a bench along Monroe Center just enjoying the nice weather and the sunshine. It wouldn't call it "busy" by any stretch, but I certainly wasn't the only person around, that's for sure. We still have a ways to go in getting people downtown on weekends, but it has improved. That's my 3 cents anyways.

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Posted

It seems like a chicken-and-egg situation to me. Retailers don't want to be open because no one is around. Well, maybe some people would be around if retailers were open. If 4 Friends sell a hundred lattes between 6 and 12 on Sunday morning, its probably not enough to pay the bills, so they stay closed.

However, I have also noticed more people around weekends that a couple years ago. When I was taking pictures last sunday around 10, I noticed several people just wandering around, or sitting on a bench along Monroe Center just enjoying the nice weather and the sunshine. It wouldn't call it "busy" by any stretch, but I certainly wasn't the only person around, that's for sure. We still have a ways to go in getting people downtown on weekends, but it has improved. That's my 3 cents anyways.

It is busier, which is nice to see...and as more people are seen out and about, more will be comfortable doing the same (safety / comfort in numbers). It's happening, just slowly :)

Also, even though I assume you just used it as an example, if 4 friends could sell 100 lattes, I guarantee that they would be open! 100 lattes in a six hour span would easily clear $100 in profits (doesn't sound like a lot, but sure adds up over the course of a month or year). Shoot, even at 30 drinks, they would more than cover their variable costs (labor and materials), which is all that they would be looking to do on a slow day anways.

Bringing this back to the vacant corners, though, who/what would want to open downtown in the space provided? There's already plenty of sandwich and coffee shops, that's for sure, but that's not to say a Potbelly's or something similar wouldn't make an appearance.

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Why can't we just do like the banks did during the stock market crash? Buy large amounts of shares to boost buyer confidence. I say we bus in lots of people, dump 'em on Monroe Center and pay them to shop around... Maybe people will take notice and walk around too? People like to go where the action is.

:D

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Posted

Awwwww.... :cry: I'll miss the ham sandwiches at Two's Chopper.

With all the activity going on in DT such as the convention center, arena, GRAM's new home, Pill Hill, etc. I don't think these spaces will remian empty for very long.

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I realize it's probably heresy, but I really want a McD's on Monroe. The BK Lounge near GVSU is too far away for that lunchtime craving. I would also like a Chipotle, Moe's or Potbelly.

or an Apple Store.

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One of these days, when downtown finally has proper demographics and density, it'll be great to stroll along Monroe Center, passing all the J.Crew's, Ann Taylors, Gap's, and other clothing retailers that still build stores in high-pedestrian, non-shoppingmall locations. It'll come, just give it time...

Also, a Moe's or Chipolte's downtown would be SO huge! I have a stack of full Moe's frequent-burrito-buyer cards that can't wait to be used!

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Posted

It seems like a chicken-and-egg situation to me. Retailers don't want to be open because no one is around. Well, maybe some people would be around if retailers were open. If 4 Friends sell a hundred lattes between 6 and 12 on Sunday morning, its probably not enough to pay the bills, so they stay closed.

...

FF's cheapest cuppa is $1.59 (plain old coffee). Typically during slow hours, one person runs the shop, so figure minimum wage (heck, let's give 'em a raise to $7) so that's $42 expense. The rest of the costs are largely fixed (heat and cooling run whether the door is unlocked or not, rent is the same). There's a slight increase in electricity when the lights and the stereo are on. They would have to figure something out with the goods from Wealthy St Bakery (which is closed Sundays, so I am guessing there's no baking happening for Sunday sales).

I think they would do well with the AGP guests and the Sunday hanger-outers. I will give them credit for staying open until the stroke of 10 pm most evenings. (Last night: three customers.)

Yes, this is the first winter for Beaner's, and the second for SB (neither of which has Coney Girl-style presence to the ice rink).

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Posted

It is busier, which is nice to see...and as more people are seen out and about, more will be comfortable doing the same (safety / comfort in numbers). It's happening, just slowly :)

Also, even though I assume you just used it as an example, if 4 friends could sell 100 lattes, I guarantee that they would be open! 100 lattes in a six hour span would easily clear $100 in profits (doesn't sound like a lot, but sure adds up over the course of a month or year). Shoot, even at 30 drinks, they would more than cover their variable costs (labor and materials), which is all that they would be looking to do on a slow day anways.

Bringing this back to the vacant corners, though, who/what would want to open downtown in the space provided? There's already plenty of sandwich and coffee shops, that's for sure, but that's not to say a Potbelly's or something similar wouldn't make an appearance.

****

re: four friends; one really can't "guarantee" they'd be open. sometimes it's about a lot more than profit. Those of us small business owners - and i can speak for FF/WSBakery - that go to church and have families and work 18 hour days the rest of the week need some time off too! we respect that people need places to go but there's the opportunity cost for us too. it's a tough decision either way! from what i hear, FF/WSB has committed to the never open on sunday factor. for what it's worth.

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****

re: four friends; one really can't "guarantee" they'd be open. sometimes it's about a lot more than profit. Those of us small business owners - and i can speak for FF/WSBakery - that go to church and have families and work 18 hour days the rest of the week need some time off too! we respect that people need places to go but there's the opportunity cost for us too. it's a tough decision either way! from what i hear, FF/WSB has committed to the never open on sunday factor. for what it's worth.

There ya go. (Although I'm not convinced that any of the Friends attend church or have small children. No offense, that's just their demographic.)

Olive Express has perhaps 7 employees, but it's really run by one person, a typical characteristic of a small, locally-based business.

Jimmy John's is a franchise and Corp can tell them to do whatever it wants.

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****

re: four friends; one really can't "guarantee" they'd be open. sometimes it's about a lot more than profit. Those of us small business owners - and i can speak for FF/WSBakery - that go to church and have families and work 18 hour days the rest of the week need some time off too! we respect that people need places to go but there's the opportunity cost for us too. it's a tough decision either way! from what i hear, FF/WSB has committed to the never open on sunday factor. for what it's worth.

I thought about that after I posted...and you are absolutely right. I should state it as there would be no "business reason" not to be open on Sunday. I agree - personal reasons can (and probably should) far outweigh business reasons.

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I thought about that after I posted...and you are absolutely right. I should state it as there would be no "business reason" not to be open on Sunday. I agree - personal reasons can (and probably should) far outweigh business reasons.

Now, if there were Ten Friends, or Fifteen...If Hippie Bead store can do OK on Sunday, I would think that the Friends could as well.

One of Sam's guys tried opening one Saturday just to sell smoothies last summer. Didn't work. (I know this because he forgot to take in the patio furniture, and I came by on Sunday and collected it for him.)

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