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northernbizzkit1

Downtown Memphis Retail

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I was scanning the new MBJ, and there was an article about how American Apparel is opening up a store across from the Arcade in South Main (It's diagonally across from Central Station and also across from Ernestine&Hazels). Pretty neat stuff, if I do say so...the article was very complimentary on the area and how AA opens up only in trendy, up-and-coming urban areas, so this is definitely a plus for downtown Memphis! I've only been in one American Apparel and it was in downtown Philly next to a Gucci store or something like that...yay Memphis! South Main, IMO, is definitely the SoHo of the South...and I'm not the only one to say this! Apparently all the clothes are made in downtown L.A. Looking at the website (which confirms with a COMING SOON TENNESSEE: SOUTH MAIN), it will be the first store in TN as well as Memphis being the second southern city (excluding Florida) to have one...pretty nifty! I'm glad, too, that this chain store isn't one that will be too disruptive to the boutiques up and down South Main. I'll be interested to see what follows.

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Never heard of the store, though my photoshoots of SouthMain last summer regularly led me to Ernestine and Hazel's every hour or so.

I take it this will be across the street from the bar? I don't know how much square footage they want, but all those buildings around their are pretty small. Anyway, if a national chain is going in down there, it at least shows the success of the area.

I'm old enough to remember when that area was nothing but dives. In the early 70's, I'd stay out all night down there carousing around waiting for the 5 AM southbound City of New Orleans. In them days, it was mostly sinister looking white hillbillies and black pimps. :P

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I'm definately all for retail. But with this one, I'd probably look better in the Rib Dog Tee than the Cotton Jersey Spandex Boy Brief. Interesting lines.

Hahaha...yup...I think it's awesome...it'll fit the neighborhood. I personally dream for the day when there will be a market, many retail shops (chain and local), A BOOKSTORE, and something like a Crate&Barrel all living in that area...

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Never heard of the store, though my photoshoots of SouthMain last summer regularly led me to Ernestine and Hazel's every hour or so.

I take it this will be across the street from the bar? I don't know how much square footage they want, but all those buildings around their are pretty small. Anyway, if a national chain is going in down there, it at least shows the success of the area.

I'm old enough to remember when that area was nothing but dives. In the early 70's, I'd stay out all night down there carousing around waiting for the 5 AM southbound City of New Orleans. In them days, it was mostly sinister looking white hillbillies and black pimps. :P

The article will be on-line tomorrow, but I seem to think that the building across from the Arcade is a fairly decent-sized one. I'm sure the store won't be cramped, though. I'm excited about how this area is rocketing!

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Major retailer taps South Main

American Apparel likes stores in up-and-coming urban areas

Carolyne Park

South Main has found its fit.

After years of lamenting the lack of retail growth in the area, the first major chain retailer is moving in. American Apparel, Inc., a Los Angeles-based clothing chain with 91 stores in 11 countries, is coming to Memphis with a store at the corner of G.E. Patterson and South Main. With locations in large cities around the globe, including New York City, Tel Aviv, London, Tokyo, Seoul and Mexico City, it's a $250 million company that seeks out unique, up-and-coming urban areas.

"They like to move into the funky areas of town," says Leslie Smith, who co-owns the future store site with Mark Grawemeyer.

American Apparel prides itself on being a sweatshop-free, vertically integrated manufacturer and retailer of casual clothing for men, women, kids and dogs. All stages of production, from sewing to marketing, are consolidated under one roof in downtown Los Angeles. In larger cities, its brand of casual solid-color T-shirts, tops and bottoms is popular with hip young urbanites.

The Memphis location has been in the works for several months, and is scheduled to open in February 2006 in the 2,400-square-foot space encompassing 528 and 530 South Main, across from the Arcade Restaurant. Built in 1914, it's the space that formerly housed Wolf's Corner, a juke joint and popular watering hole for blue collar workers and business people.

Since then the building has had a variety of tenants, including John Simmon's Carnevale interior design store and an exhibition space for City House condominiums.

"That corner's been a little bit of everything," Grawemeyer says.

Now developers and area residents predict it will be a draw for shoppers from throughout the Memphis area.

"I think a younger crowd is going to be coming to that area, making that a destination," Smith says.

Leah Fyfe, retail specialist with CB Richard Ellis Memphis, worked with American Apparel to find its ideal Memphis location.

"South Main really had the character, look and appeal that American Apparel wants to brand," she says.The South Main Historic Arts District is characterized by locally owned shops, restaurants and galleries. Hopes are that American Apparel will bring new energy to the area, drawing in both shoppers and other retailers.

"I think it'll set off a chain reaction," Fyfe says.

It's a chain reaction that area residents have been waiting for. Lisa Doss, owner of the clothing and accessories boutique Muse, says South Main needs a larger mix of retailers to give shoppers more choices and more reasons to come.

"The more retail we have down here, the more it will be a destination," Doss says.

Developer Phil Woodard is optimistic that other retailers will follow American Apparel's lead.

"It's nothing but a plus for our area," he says. "He's our anchor."

With Downtown's 12,000 residents and an annual growth rate of 10.3%, Center City Commission president Jeff Sanford says the area is "just at the tipping point" for retail growth. But unlike other parts of the city, Downtown will draw a different kind of retailer aimed at the urban market.

"Downtown's signature will be unique retailers," he says.

American Apparel spokesman Cynthia Semon says the company is rapidly expanding with 4-10 new stores a month.

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This sounds like really great news for downtown Memphis. More and more people moving downtown plus more and more retail equates to something like a snowball effect for the renaissance of downtown Memphis.

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There's mention of the Embassy Suites that's going to be built in that empty lot across from Peabody Place mall. I've always hoped that would be the spot for a department store's return to Downtown Memphis. How perfect would it be if a Saks or Bloomingdale's or even a Macy's were built there and connected to the Peabody Place mall via the skyways?

Oh well...

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There's mention of the Embassy Suites that's going to be built in that empty lot across from Peabody Place mall. I've always hoped that would be the spot for a department store's return to Downtown Memphis. How perfect would it be if a Saks or Bloomingdale's or even a Macy's were built there and connected to the Peabody Place mall via the skyways?

You bring up a good point. They aren't leaving much room for expansion of the mall, should a major anchor want to add on or the downtown market demands more stores. There's a parcel at a diagonal from the mall, containing the closed Elvis Presley's club, that might work.

Of course, one could hope that future retail establishments might be situated along Main, like the American Apparel store that's opening down by Central Station. Then, we would have come full circle from the 1970's, when everything closed down on main besides the wig stores :lol:

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