Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Retail owners stay upbeat in Myers Park

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2009 at 10:00 AM

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Despite the “Space Available” and “Goodbye Sale” signs popping up all over Myers Park storefronts, retail owners are surprisingly optimistic.

Nonie McVicker, a sales associate at Tennille & Co., which is located in Selwyn Corners shopping center, admitted that shoppers have been slower to purchase. But she also made sure to mention that “business was doing better this January than a year ago.”

One owner of a store on Selwyn Avenue, who asked not to be named, offered the same information, claiming that after selling antiques in Charlotte for over 30 years, business showed no signs of slowing down.

“If women don’t have the intention of shopping, then they don’t come in. We don’t get a lot of accidental traffic,” said Erin Zelickson, a former employee of the fashion-forward boutique Surface.

Surface recently closed its doors, but Zelickson has continued to work at Perris, another boutique across the street owned by the same mother-daughter duo, Kerry and Kendra Surface. Perris has been a fixture in Charlotte fashion — opened by Kerry over 20 years ago.

“Women feel guilty coming home with shopping bags when their husbands have just been laid off,” Zelickson said, offering another reason why she felt women’s clothing boutiques were having such a hard time.

Blake Marshall, co-owner of Luca Lu, also realizes that destination shopping in addition to the recession has made things much harder for her business. The boutique plans to close mid-March.

“Our loyal customers continued to shop with us, but we had very few opportunities to bring in new customers because of our location,” Marshall said. Luca Lu’s storefront is barely visible from the road.

One storefront in Selwyn Corners has no problem being noticed from the road: Renee George Gallery. “I have people tell me they are stopping in because they noticed I changed the work on the wall,” said Renee George McColl, owner of the art gallery.

McColl recognizes that things have been slow, but after being open for only two months, she is very happy with the turnout. She believes the condominiums being built across the street will also help the situation in the future.

The art gallery and antique store owners both hope for more shops like theirs to open in the available spots because they can use destination shopping to their advantage. Shoppers who are looking to visit galleries or go antiquing do not want to deal with getting in and out of the car.

“Being clustered helps our business,” said McColl. It also helps that art and furniture are investments, and people can rationalize spending money on long-term items rather than trendy clothes.

It was evident that the surrounding store owners were saddened by the closing of their neighbor shops, but the owner of the antique store on Selwyn Avenue pointed out that not all businesses are doing poorly. “Focusing on the negative will only make matters worse,” she said.

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