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Retail churn continues as stores open, close

Gordmans reconfigured its business model to stay open. The off-price retailer this week relaunched its Meridian and Nampa locations.
File courtesy of Stage Stores Inc.

While some national retailers like Dressbarn are pulling the plug on their brick-and-mortar locations in Idaho, off-price retailer Gordmans held a “grand opening” for its two stores in the Boise metro May 23, offering free gifts to visitors and checks to area high schools to coincide with its relaunch.

Not to be outdone, Columbia Sportswear will have a grand opening and ribbon cutting at its first brand-only location on May 31 at The Village at Meridian. The new tenant’s space was formerly occupied by Z Gallerie, which exited the shopping center earlier this year.

“We are excited to bring the Columbia Sportswear brand to an area so well connected to the outdoor lifestyle,” the Portland-based company said in the news release. “Our Village at Meridian store will offer a great selection of sportswear, outerwear, footwear and accessories for the entire family, so whether you need gear for every day or for your next special adventure, come check it out.”

In celebration of Gordmans’ expanded retail footprint and refreshed merchandise mix, which staved off an expected closure, the company hosted ribbon cuttings at stores at 2260 N. Eagle Road in Meridian and 16740 Marketplace Blvd. in Nampa.

Additionally school administrators from Meridian and Nampa high schools were on hand to accept $1,000 check donations from Gordmans.

As previously reported by the IBR, Gordmans’ former parent company announced that it would file for bankruptcy in 2017 and was liquidating its inventory at all of its stores. The company said it would close more than 100 of its stores, including its Idaho locations.

The new owner, Stage Stores Inc., which operates brands Bealls, goody’s, Palais Royal, Peebles and Stage nameplates, was the winning bidder in the bankruptcy sale and announced that it would “reopen” and operate 50 of the Gordmans stores, including the Meridian and Nampa locations, which actually never closed. However, a Gordmans on Parkcenter Boulevard was shuttered, and Albertsons later bought the building.

The closure of the Dressbarn women’s clothing chain, founded in the 1960s as a place where women in need of career-wear “could find fashion at a value,” adds to a growing list of national and regional retailers that in recent months have announced they are going out of business. Two recent examples are Shopko and Payless ShoeSource.

Dressbarn owner Ascena Retail Group Inc. said it wants to focus on more profitable brands, such as Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant and LOFT. In Boise, the Dressbarn store also includes Acensa’s Roz & Ali brand.

“This decision was difficult, but necessary, as the Dressbarn chain has not been operating at an acceptable level of profitability in today’s retail environment,” Steven Taylor, Ascena’s chief financial officer, said in a statement, but didn’t lay out a timeline for closing its 650 stores, a process he referred to as a “wind down.”

In Boise, Dressbarn is located in the Westpark Town Plaza at 331 N. Milwaukee St.

While vacancies are concerning to property owners, the metro area’s commercial real estate industry players see a lot of opportunity in service-oriented businesses – restaurants, coffee shops and juice bars, gyms, barbershops, cellphone stores – to lease empty storefronts at shopping centers and strip malls.

For decades, they say, service-oriented purveyors have been the workhorses of Boise retail centers. These types of businesses are small, many of them locally owned with a couple of people cutting hair, doing nails or offering personal/fitness training – in person experiences that are internet-resistant by their nature.

About Steve Sinovic