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A Big Vacancy

Opportunity at Briarwood and other marketplace closings

by Sally Mitani

From the April, 2017 issue

Wet Seal and Gold 'n' Gems left Briarwood earlier this year. The strangely named Wet Seal was no surprise--selling basically the same stuff as Forever 21 down the hall, with a smaller, darker footprint, the entire chain has been in bankruptcy for some time. Gold 'n' Gems' departure coincides with the arrival of Zales; its space will soon become a gaming arcade, PLAYlive Nation.

MC Sports is also leaving Briarwood, though the doors were still open in mid-March. When it does, it will leave a very big hole. The Grand Rapids-based chain had blossomed to seventy-eight stores when we talked to company VP Ed Rix in 2011. The chain is now down to sixty-eight and in January announced it will close all of them.

"Well, it leaves a big opportunity," says Briarwood's marketing and development director Denise Murray. "We do have possibilities; we don't have anything signed and don't release anything until fully executed. It's a very attractive space."

When MC Sports moved over from Oak Valley Center in 2011, it was given the red carpet treatment. A hole was blasted into the outside wall of the 22,000-square-foot space, which used to be a movie theater, giving MC a separate outside entrance and conferring upon it an anchor-like visibility. In retrospect, that was not a good move for either Briarwood or MC.

Asked what kind of store might replace it, Murray says: "Everyone is looking for something a little more experiential, stores that are more interactive."

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Findings, the bead store, closed in December. Owner Gerry Dimond opened the store in Lamp Post Plaza in 1994 and moved it to Jackson Centre in 2002. In search of someone who might know how to find her when she didn't answer a query to her website, we turned to Jesse Yaeger, who's been working at the Bead Gallery on E. Liberty since 2007. Yaeger said she'd heard from customers that Dimond was "on hiatus," deciding whether to reopen in another location,

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keep the business going online, or retire. There's a lot of cross-pollination between the two stores--Yaeger said the Bead Gallery would often send customers to Findings and she to Bead Gallery--and she says since Dimond didn't approach Bead Gallery about buying any inventory, she wouldn't be surprised if Findings popped up again somewhere.

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"Dollar Tree hasn't notified us that they're leaving" Maple Village, assured Brixmor spokesperson Kristen Moore last summer. But we now note we forgot to ask if Maple Village had notified Dollar Tree that it was leaving. The store suddenly closed at the end of February, leaving only one dollar store in the entire city--the super-big Dollar Tree at Washtenaw Commons, which made room for the Maple Village Dollar Tree's three longtime employees. People at Brixmor dodged the question of whether Dollar Tree was asked to leave.

The closing caused some consternation among customers who appreciated Maple Village's now-gone bargain nexus--Dollar Tree's next door neighbor, used-clothing superstore Value World, closed last year. "The community has expressed an interest in value retailers for Maple Village," Moore acknowledges by email. "We will be adding Five Below, a value retailer that offers a dynamic, edited assortment of products in a fun and differentiated environment, all priced at $5 and below. This store is scheduled to open in late March."

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Got a retail or restaurant change? Send email to sallymitani@gmail.com, or leave voicemail at 769-3175, x 309.    (end of article)

[Originally published in April, 2017.]

 

 
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