Just over two years ago, I began my first Retail Corridor column with the oft-cited quote by the famous Chinese Taoist philosopher, Lao-Tzu: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
With the new year upon us and so many major changes coming to the Tribune next week — including the elimination of Retail Corridor — I can happily say this journey of a thousand miles has ended as it began — with a single step.To mark the end, it’s time to reflect on a few of the exciting retail news events from the past two years and look forward to some of the things down the road.
BARNEYS NEW YORK
In late 2006, Westcor officials announced they scored a big-name luxury retailer store at Scottsdale Fashion Square — Barneys New York, an upscale department store with only a handful of locations nationwide.
The store is set to open in the fall.
FRESH & EASY
Fresh & Easy, a subsidiary of the United Kingdom’s No. 1 grocer, Tesco, opened its first stores in the Valley in February 2007.
Arizona was one of only three states where the stores opened.
Earlier this year, a company official said Fresh & Easy could eventually blanket the Valley with stores about two miles apart, providing roughly one store for every 20,000 residents.
The chain was eventually joined by Wal-Mart’s Marketside grocery stores, although the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer has only opened four stores in the East Valley to test shoppers’ reception to a small-scale, convenience-based market.
Gilbert residents received their first mall when SanTan Village shopping center opened for business in October 2007.
The center offers 1.2 million square feet of retail space as well as another 1.3 million square feet of space nearby.
Bloomingdale’s, the world-renowned New York-based retailer known for its gala events, fashion shows and the first designer shopping bag, announced in February it was building a three-story, 180,000-square-foot department store at CityNorth in northeast Phoenix.
Officials pushed back opening plans for “Bloomies,” nicknamed by its most loyal shoppers, until 2010 for financial reasons.
FIESTA MALL EXPANDS
Sometime in spring 2009, Fiesta Mall officials in Mesa will at long last mark the openings of Dick’s Sporting Goods and Best Buy in a double-decker building occupying the space left vacant by Macy’s when the retailer merged with Robinsons-May.
The openings are a key event in the mall’s ongoing revitalization efforts.
MACY’S IN GILBERT
Macy’s department store officials broke a long-held silence in May by announcing their intentions to open a store in SanTan Village in April 2009.
The single-story, 120,000-square-foot department store was announced in tandem with stores at CityNorth in north Phoenix and Goodyear, bringing the retailer’s presence in the Valley to 11 locations.
Company officials said their intention was to ring the Valley with stores in areas where populations are exploding.
The new year is shaping up to be the best of times and the worst of times for Scottsdale shoppers.
(Apologies to Charles Dickens for comparing the life and death struggles of his fictitious characters to the birth and death of stores.)
But it is fitting that the same sagging economy that will spell the end for several retailers also signals the end of this column. This will be the last Retail Corridor, so there’s lots to remind you about.
Venerable businesses like Mervyn’s, Circuit City, Linens ’n’ Things, KB Toys and Whitehall Jewelers have spent their last holiday season in this city. Relative newcomer Libby Lu faces the same fate.
Look for more national names to shrivel — if not fold completely — after they tally their holiday season take. Experts say after-Christmas sales are not likely to save the many tottering retailers, but most won’t throw in the towel until the last receipt is counted in January.
It would be a much sadder situation if there wasn’t so much new on the horizon.
The Scottsdale Quarter, under construction at Scottsdale Road and the Greenway-Hayden Loop, will feature a whole host of new-to-Scottsdale stores. Low-priced global fashion retailer H&M and West Elm, the contemporary furniture arm of Williams-Sonoma, plus Williams-Sonoma Home, which features the gourmet cookware and home furnishing retailer’s more traditional, high-quality products, are coming this year. An Australian movie theater chain that offers gourmet meals, fine wines and reclining armchair seats expects to follow a year later.
Another new shopping center, Salt River Commons, is pegged to open in a year or so on 40 acres of land between Pima Road and Loop 101, just south of Via de Ventura, with the Scottsdale area’s first Super Target and lots more “big-box” stores.
Just one stop down the freeway, Scottsdale Pavilions is getting a major makeover — just paint and a new look for now, with new stores in the future.
There is a lot more news expected at Scottsdale’s many existing retail centers, from the newly cool downtown shopping district to the numerous neighborhood centers dotted around town. Stores that close just make room for others to open, so say the always-optimistic retail industry leaders.
Savvy Scottsdale shoppers will find many more exciting and interesting places to spend their money in the future.
One last piece of retail advice: Spend those gift cards ASAP. If your favorite store shuts down, you won’t be left with unused and unusable money on them.