GvilleSC

The State of Downtown Retail

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Ok, Well that's official. Thanks for the official confirmation. This actually sounds like a smart move on their part . Especially in the age of the Internet with the ability to access map information on the go. I also think their other name change is better. while the geographic themed items they sold at the shop were nice I think their bread and butter is the custom map work for other companies. As stated I worked for an organization and that's what we used the map shop for. I do hope something with a character similar to the map shop moves in. One thing that kind of bothers me about both the Map shop and Coffee Underground is the stair only access to them thus making handicap access difficult if not impossible. If it comes up in conversation I'll try to mention it at my business network lunch tomorrow.

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gs3    26

Sad. :cry:

Glad I got to enjoy for the four years I've been in Greenville.

There is another Main Street mom and pop that is looking to move off Main (not close)....their reasoning is that they own their building, and the value has increased so, that taxes have become a burden. Look for this in the coming months.

I think this is part of the growing up of Greenville......downtown has been wildly successful and the local entrepreneurs can't afford it. Two positive's from this...1) National retailers usually start entering a downtown at about this point and 2) this should give rise to another area on the fringes of downtown where locals can cluster and thrive with lower cost. These are the normal two growth patterns that cities follow.

With that said, city hall NEEDS to be proactively talking with nationals! I hear they are. I hope what I hear is true.

Edited by gsupstate

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vicupstate    220

Ok, before this gets any further has anyone actually said or confirmed the Map Shop is closing or moving from downtown? Sometimes rumors like this can hurt business. Some of the above post have all but said this was a fact when it's not. It's a speculation.

This is why I didn't give a name. Unfortunately, I gave TOO much information to keep speculation from quickly narrowing it down to the actual company. The source was credible, otherwise, I would not have even posted it.

It is a shame they are closing.

I question if national retailers are actually ready to give DT Greenville a shot. It may still be too early. Maybe after Peacock and Pinnacle open, but I guess we will see.

National retailers flooded Charleston's King Street but there is no alternative to reach the tourists. In Greenville, the nationals can still go with the 'safe' choice of Woodruff Road. DT tourism is growing, but is still years away from Asheville or Charleston's level.

I agree that the restaurants need the retail component to continue drawing in more business.

Edited by vicupstate

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gs3    26

I question if national retailers are actually ready to give DT Greenville a shot. It may still be too early. Maybe after Peacock and Pinnacle open, but I guess we will see.

I think the success of Mast (which is one of the top two performing stores in the chain) is proof that downtown is more than ready for nationals. While not national, Mast is regional, and many cities are trying to lure them. They have a large footprint, and if the people and numbers weren't there, Mast wouldn't survive and it most certainly would not be one of the top two stores in the chain.

The people and the numbers ARE there for success for nationals. Mast is proof.

Alot of behind the scenes issues happen with locally owned stores....everything from not enough financial backing to change of personal direction, family, work loads, etc, etc, etc....you name it.

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If I was a big national retailer I would have second thoughts about locating downtown and the main reason is the lack of free parking like you can get everywhere else. I don't want to have to pay to park in a garage or maintained lot. If I do go downtown during the day I will either park at a place away from downtown and walk half a mile or have to watch the clock to make sure I don't go over the two hour limit. I don't want the inconvenience of having to plan ahead enough to have cash in my pocket in order to park. You can talk about the cost of rent but if I knew I would be getting good foot traffic and no worry parking for my clients then the rent would be secondary. Not only is charging businesses rent but downtown also charges "rent" to shoppers in the form of parking. Yes, I know they have free parking on weekends but it really should be all the time. Greenville's downtown is just not designed to have a heavily trafficked large retail presence that is one reason the malls were made in the first place. If a place like Haywood Mall has to have shuttle buses during the holidays can you imagine what downtown would be like.

Downtown is more designed for smaller niche shops. I am glad they have a big coffee and wireless presence because downtown is a good central location to meet potential clients, etc.

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btoy    20

I have a question....Should the city embrace national retailors if they enter the downtown Market? Or discourage them becasue it could lead to Greenville possibily loosing unique character?

One thing to think of with downtowns that could make it hard to attract retail.

Lots of retailers are looking for exclusivity or cotenancy clasues when they open a store. When they go into a large development with one owner, that owner can for an example agree that they will not lease any space in their development to another retailer who may have the same business or be direct compeition. But when you look at a downtown and just about every building has a different owner that is not possible, competition may be able to open up right next door.

I am not saying this is a reason that national and regional retailers are not downtown, but I think it could have some influence even if its just a small amount.

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mallguy    49

The two posts above about parking and co-tenancy clauses are good.

Perhaps Greenville could work on (1) getting a coalition of downtown stores to provide free parking (perhaps by stamping tickets from parking garages; I've seen other cities do this) and (2) getting a mall-type manager such as Urban Retail or Jones Lang LaSalle to manage downtown's retail base and coordinate store openings and the like?

Surely having a jumble of property owners and no central management or direction isn't good. From what I can tell, downtown doesn't even have a mall-type website listing its stores.

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GvilleSC    89

Paying to park isn't that bad. It generates revenue for the city, which has helped downtown become the destination that it is today. Also, if you don't want to pay, then you'll probably park a block or two away from your destination point. This senario creates pedestrian traffic which is exactly what stores want. And we all know that most everyone can afford to walk those two blocks.

The city does have parking money that businesses can give out to visitors of their offices. If any retail store could afford (I assume they pay for them) parking vouchers, it'd be national retailers. Which means you're probably going to have to buy something in the store, so therefore you're paying to park anyway.

Edited by GvilleSC

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gs3    26

Paying to park isn't that bad. It generates revenue for the city, which has helped downtown become the destination that it is today. Also, if you don't want to pay, then you'll probably park a block or two away from your destination point. This senario creates pedestrian traffic which is exactly what stores want. And we all know that most everyone can afford to walk those two blocks.

The city does have parking money that businesses can give out to visitors of their offices. If any retail store could afford (I assume they pay for them) parking vouchers, it'd be national retailers. Which means you're probably going to have to buy something in the store, so therefore you're paying to park anyway.

Good points. :thumbsup:

On "national" retailers, I was refering to specialty, niche....not large, big box.

Does a downtown really want people to drive up in their car, park in one place, shop and leave? Or do you want pedestrian traffic? Why did we not build some massive parking deck at the new ball field? Because we didn't want to be an "in and out" town. We want people to walk and pass stores. Judging by the current high pedestrian activity downtown, the current parking situation (free on street all week, decks free on weekends) doesn't seem to be an issue to most.....the current parking doesn't seem to be keeping anyone away.

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mallguy    49

Read the fine print at the bottom of the letter. They are taking inquires for the space.

Good catch, which I missed- the store must just not have been doing enough business (or at least not enough compared to what another use of the space could generate). Yikes!

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Greenville    31

There have been a lot of posts today that I had to catch up on, so please forgive my stream-of-consciousness post...

1. It is sad to hear that The Map Shop will be closing. They have been a great, unique store for many years and I hope they have fond memories of their time downtown.

2. I view this "purging" of some local retailers from the downtown shopping scene as healthy for our city. Go to any big city with unique areas and good urban retail like Boston, DC, or New York. Their streets are not lined with mom and pop stores, but with quality national retailers. They were once where we were, but as they grew and real estate values increased, some local retailers were pushed out. They were supplanted by national retailers, and the cities are better off for it (in my opinion, anyway).

3. With that said, that's not to say that some really unique, great mom and pop stores with good business models cannot continue to thrive downtown. We still want them. We need them as we move forward. We just need some recognizable national retailers too - and I am convinced that they can all coexist downtown.

4. We have a real opportunity to create a snowball effect downtown. I can see more popular national retailers like Gap, Borders, Ann Taylor, and J. Crew entering the market. People will support these. I think it will also be added incentive for people to live downtown and companies to locate downtown. Which will cause more national retailers to be downtown...etc.

5. Parking is fine. Buildings can accommodate new retailers entering the market. They don't expect plentiful parking nearby in the form of a lot when they locate in an urban area.

6. The [email protected] project is a great opportunity for the city to do the right thing and bring some great national retailers downtown. It's a huge amount of space that, if done right, will really add to the downtown experience.

Edited by Greenville

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mallguy    49

2. I view this "purging" of some local retailers from the downtown shopping scene as healthy for our city. Go to any big city with unique areas and good urban retail like Boston, DC, or New York. Their streets are not lined with mom and pop stores, but with quality national retailers. They were once where we were, but as they grew and real estate values increased, some local retailers were pushed out. They were supplanted by national retailers, and the cities are better off for it (in my opinion, anyway).

3. With that said, that's not to say that some really unique, great mom and pop stores with good business models cannot continue to thrive downtown. We still want them. We need them as we move forward. We just need some recognizable national retailers too - and I am convinced that they can all coexist downtown.

I agree completely. Savannah, GA, for one, has some national chains and some local stores downtown; I see that as the closest city to Greenville. But I'm concerned that the recent spate of closings will lead just to some more mom-and-pop gift shops filling those spaces or more vacancies. I'm not fully in the loop on Greenville leaders' retail efforts, but I see no sign that anything is done to aggressively court national retailers or another retail anchor, which is necessary. I'd also think that, based on other cities' experiences, public involvement (e.g., public funds) are often necessary to lure a large retail anchor to a downtown area, and I see no sign that this is being done. (Not saying that it'd be a good thing, but just saying that I don't see that this is being done.)

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vicupstate    220

Mast General is a small regional chain that locates in small towns/cities. Their success is certainly positive, but National Retailers are on a different level altogether. They are VERY picky and they are NOT pioneers. I don't think DT has the numbers YET, to CONVINCE (notice I did not say 'support') national chains to open DT, when Woodruff Road is a sure bet.

I would love to be proven wrong, and Main and Washington is indeed the best spot for one, but that is my take on it. Savannah is yet another city that has an entirely higher level of tourism to support DT retail. The Nationals have to see those kind of numbers, before they make the leap.

I agree with btoy that good 'locals' are preferrable to nationals, although a nice blend is even better.

I don't think parking is the issue so must as the traffic count. I fully expect these vacancies to be filled by local not national retailers. I just hope that IS what happens, as opposed to still more bars and restaurants, or worse still, long-term vacancies.

Perhaps part of the problem is that the landlords expect nationals to come in, and have raised rates with that in mind.

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gs3    26

I don't think DT has the numbers YET, to CONVINCE (notice I did not say 'support') national chains to open DT, when Woodruff Road is a sure bet.

Excellent point.

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mallguy    49

Maybe the only place national retailers would come downtown now would be in the County Square redevelopment and at McBee Station?

At least those developments are more or less downtown, if not right on Main St.

Maybe American Apparel could be lured downtown? Not sure what happened with it in the West End, but it's a candidate for many growing downtowns since it doesn't like malls.

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gs3    26

Perhaps part of the problem is that the landlords expect nationals to come in, and have raised rates with that in mind.

This is almost fact. Does anyone have pricing for downtowns of comparable sized metros? I sometimes feel Greenville rates are based more on the fact that we are located between Charlotte and Atlanta, thus skewing our expectations, than what the market rates truely should be.

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breed    0

People keep bringing up Mast as being successful, but they aren't really a good measure, as they purchased their property at well-below-market rate from the city.

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gs3    26

People keep bringing up Mast as being successful, but they aren't really a good measure, as they purchased their property at well-below-market rate from the city.

When I've brought up their success, I look at it from total dollars in sales, not margin. From what I know, they are number 2 in the chain in total dollars. That would be successful.

If they purchased below market, coupled with being number two in the chain, that would make them extremely successful with this location.

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mallguy    49

People keep bringing up Mast as being successful, but they aren't really a good measure, as they purchased their property at well-below-market rate from the city.

True but the store often seems to be chock full of people, regardless of the good deal the store got on its space (which would certainly increase profits)- to me that indicates that people will come shop downtown if the stores they want are there. That's why I'm not concerned about some of those stores closing; the problem isn't that people won't shop downtown; the problem is that non-appealing stores are downtown.

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^ I think one of the factors though is that there isn't a MAST anywhere else in the City. If you opened say a GAP, would it attract people to downtown to shop? Or would they just head out to the mall, woodruff etc. Not sure the National aspect is really as key as some people think, unless its the only one in the city.

But I do agree that there has to be something to draw folks downtown and anchor the shopping for all the cool specialty stores.

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