Art Is In Market came to Briarwood for the holiday season and decided to stay. It has now moved a few doors down to the smaller but highly desirable inside corner that Coldwater Creek vacated. The store was conceived by Debbie La Pratt, an artist herself, in 2005, using the model of antique malls. Artists and artisans (“art is in”–get it?) have a permanent inside space, where they pay rent and a percentage of their sales. In return, they avoid the daily set-up and tear-down of art fairs. Nor do they need to have their own credit card account, handle money, or even be anywhere in the vicinity. La Pratt now has four Art Is In Markets, all in enclosed shopping malls.
The rest of the JCPenney wing has been in turmoil since Forever 21 began its move down the hall to a bigger space, setting off a round of musical chairs. Victoria’s Secret’s move to Forever 21’s space is currently in progress. It’s almost easier to say what hasn’t changed: Pottery Barn and Apple are still the mid-wing anchors. According to a recent Wall Street Journal story, Apple stores now rival department stores as customer draws, and so can negotiate bargain rents on prime space. The Briarwood store is certainly always bustling, and a new attraction is due this month–the new Apple Watch.
A reader wrote to ask what happened to The Limited, for years a staple of Penney’s wing: it’s gone from Briarwood, but here’s a little of its history, which runs parallel to the history of malls like Briarwood in general. Ohioan Les Wexner opened the first Limited in 1963 in a Columbus suburban mall. As the name suggested, he saw that less was more: instead of a full-scale apparel store, Limited specialized in a certain type of stylish, well-made women’s wear. By the 1980s there were hundreds of Limited stores in malls across the country, and Wexner either started or acquired other well-known mall brands like Limited Express, Limited Too, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lane Bryant, Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works–there must have been a point in the 1980s when Briarwood in its entirety was pretty much owned by two men: Al Taubman and Les Wexner.
Wexner’s empire of mall-based chains eventually crumbled, and by 2012 the whole caboodle was in the hands of Sun Capital, a private equity firm. It’s been closing Limited stores, including this one, though there are still a half dozen of them in the Detroit area.
Art Is In Market, 769-6550. artisinmarket.com