May 13, 2011 Gina Colonette Uncategorized
It has been nearly a year since Urban Outfitters opened up in Armory Square and it’s still being met with enthusiasm. Rumor has it where Urban Outfitters goes other chains follow. Whether that is true or not, chains are welcome to add to the “mixed bag of goods” of Armory Square.
On Aug. 19, 2010 Urban Outfitters made a new home for itself at 223 Walton St. When it first opened many of the existing retailers were looking forward to the increased traffic downtown and into their stores said Tony Ortega, president of the Armory Square Association.
The Sound Garden manager, Ron Cicoria, supported Urban Outfittes “100 percent” and knows first-hand the effect the store has had on the area: The Sound Garden had its best year in 2010. On the weekends many of the customers walking into his store carryUrban Outfitters bags. Although he said you can’t attribute his store’s sales to just one thing, he’s sure having Urban Outfitters downtown has helped.
Cicoria is also an Urban Outfitters customer, but of course he still supports small businesses.
“I love small business, I’m in small business, but I’m also into making Armory Square a flourishing neighborhood,” Cicoria said.
In order for people to come downtown and want to shop, a market has to be created. Joel Shapiro, owner of Jet Black, Mr. Shop, Frankie & Faye and Bounce, thinks Armory Square has done that. He calls it a “mini Soho.”
When you look around Armory Square there is a very large market, he said.
“When you’re in the retail business, the bigger the market the better the place and every store will benefit from it,” Shapiro said. “If that wasn’t true you’d have to shut down every store in the mall.”
Having Urban Outfitters downtown is exciting for some retailers and people who work to keep Armory Square thriving, but not all chains are wanted.
“They are unique because they are one of the few stores that go into an area where they try to meet the criteria of a people who want to shop at independent stores versus shop in the mall,” said Ben Sio, of CenterState CEO Economic Development.
Urban Outfitters is a proven anchor for other chains in the region. Sio’s organization felt comfortable bringing them in and offering them the Connective Corridor Hospitality Enterprise Fund (CCHEF) because of the positive effect the store has on independent retailers and restaurants around them.
Sio said although Urban Outfitters is supposed to act as an anchor for other stores moving in there has not yet been a whole sloth of new stores open in Armory Square.
The only real limitation of bringing chain stores into the area is space, Ortega said. For now Armory Square has Urban Outfitters and it’s doing the job it was meant to do. Coming up on its one-year anniversary it’s still being met with enthusiasm by Armory Square retailers.
“[Urban Outfitters] bring a whole new dimension to Armory Square – it’s wonderful. They are a national retailer who found Armory Square as a great place to do business,” Shapiro said. “I think it’s quite exciting having them down here.”