Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Squeezing the Tomatoes

The reason this is a bit tragic--and not because of Meijer per se, is that Walmart today DOESN'T go for "good food as the draw" as much. The meat is packaged elsewhere and packed with chemicals, and the bakery is a joke: while a real supermarket makes in-scratch dough, Walmart gets theirs from Canada. The good news is that while Super Kmart is basically dead in the water, Meijer is thriving, and other grocery stores (including H-E-B, even Kroger) are picking up on adding general merchandise. Microfilm courtesy Blinn College

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Auchan and its subtenants

From Houston Post:

For what's it worth, China Belle must have been a full-service restaurant, as Googling the name has it has at the Auchan address, and there's no other references to it. Also, they left out the travel agency (one of the 14)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gateway Mall

Hooker plans 4-6 anchors for Gateway Mall project. (LJ Hooker Developments).
Daily News Record 18.n90 (May 10, 1988): p.p15(1). (421 words)
Show details

Full Text :COPYRIGHT 1988 Fairchild Publications, Inc.
Hooker Plans 4-6 Anchors For Gateway Mall Project ATLANTA -- LJ Hooker Developments detailed plans for its Gateway Fashion Mall, a 1.2-million-square-foot shopping center that is part of the second phase of the Atlanta-based company's midtown Atlanta mixed-use project.

Scheduled to open in fall 1990, Gateway Fashion Mall will have at least four major anchor stores or as many as six, according to Boyd Simpson, president of LJ Hooker Developments. The three-level mall will also have abouit 150 smaller shops, a food court, restaurants, a cinema, and a 10,000-square-foot legitimate theater that will fit in with the midtown area's focus on the arts.

While Hooker did not announce which stores will anchor the mall, Simpson said that several stores had expressed an interest in anchor positions -- "more than we have space for," he noted. Possible candidates would be retailers owned by the LJ Hooker Retail Group. These are Bonwit Teller, B. Altman's, Sakowitz, and Parisian. The Hooker Retail Group, which also owns Merksamer Jewelers, was formed in the fall of 1987.

"It's probable that some of these retailers will be Gateway anchors," Simpson said. He added that he expects a decision to be made on the anchor mix before construction begins in late summer. He said that formal announcements regarding the anchor stores would be made "with the respective retailers once the anchor mix is fully resolved."

He said, too, that he expects no difficulty in leasing the 425,000 square feet of small store space. "Atlanta is attractive to both the smaller regional and the larger national retail chains becuase it's the 10th-largest market in the nation and they want to be here. Midtown's appeal is its new 'heart' and status."

The shopping mall will lie between two high-rise ofice buildings, both of which will have their own parking decks. One is a 49-floor, 1.2-million-square-foot tower and the other is a 21-floor, 500,000-square-foot building. The total complex will blend office, residential, retail and hotel space on 19-acre site in the midtown area.

Thompson Venulett Stainback & Associates, an Atlanta-based architectural firm, created the preliminary conceptual design for the mall. Simpson called the design "a spectacular open and airy galleria with elegant finishes." The interior detailing will include sculptured columns and railings, pendant chandeliers, pools and a water cascade.

LJ Hooker Developments began assembling parcels of land for the Gateway project in the early 1980s before the midtown building boom began, the company said. Simpson said that Gateway Center has been a favored project of Hooker Corp.'s executive chairman, George Herscu.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A rather Grand mall

These were taken from a Google News Archive newspaper from 1982, showing the grand opening of Grand Avenue Mall. It was an innovative center, connecting two historic department stores, including Gimbels (yes, the first Gimbels was in Milwaukee, not New York City). While the mall was built in 1982, most of the buildings came from a much earlier time, including the Plankinton Arcade. A lot of the stores were unique, local, upscale-leaning stores as part of the "festival marketplace" theme Rouse loved so much. Sadly, due to mismanagement over the years, nearly every store has moved on, and the mall is hardly what it was in the glory days.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Arlington, Texas-Area Malls Aim to Win over Shoppers' Palates

Dunno about you, but buying roasted corn at a mall is delicious, and healthy, relatively.

Title:Arlington, Texas-Area Malls Aim to Win over Shoppers' Palates
Authors:Shirley Jinkins
Source:Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX); 11/24/2002

Arlington, Texas-Area Malls Aim to Win over Shoppers' Palates
Nov. 24--ARLINGTON -- It's 4:45 p.m. on a Saturday, sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. You are at a mall with three children under 10, your pregnant sister and 7,000 other Arlington residents.
All of you are hungry.
Believe it or not, this is just the sort of scenario for which mall managers plan, negotiate and strategize, but they must also plan for the midsummer weekday lunch hour.
Hometown Star staff members visited Arlington malls for lunch recently and found a wide range of food choices and atmospheres.
Here is what we found: The Parks at Arlington mall has just opened a huge new addition, which enlarged the existing second-level food court.
Six Flags Mall is beginning a yearlong expansion project on its food court.
Festival International Bazaar is promoting diversity in its food offerings as well as its shops.
"What we did, we took a step back and said, `Who is our customer?' " said April Irwin, marketing director for Six Flags Mall at 2911 E. Division St. The 30-year-old mall is renovating its food service areas and will be opening three new restaurants by Dec. 1.
The French Market will serve soups, salads, pastries and specialty coffees. Chicago's Taste & More will offer Chicago-style hot dogs with all the trimmings. Cakes & Pies, a pastry shop, will open in a food-court space being vacated by the Brass Bean.
Our visit to Six Flags Mall included a stop at a proven favorite, Italia Express, near the movie theatre. Their lunch special of a slice of pizza and a drink for $2.75 was both filling and frugal, and the pizza is cheesy and fragrant. The calzones for $3.75 were huge.
Irwin said mall food-court plans must consider three elements: seating, uniqueness of food vendors and nearby activities.
Seating areas should be well-lighted, accessible and plentiful, Irwin said, and food courts should be conveniently located near mall exits.
Small, child-friendly activities, such as arcades, should be near the court so slower-eating adults can finish meals while keeping an eye on their children.
"We don't want to duplicate the same food places over and over," Irwin said. "We think about what people ask for and versatility."
The French Market is attractive, Irwin said, because of its huge and varied menu. Chicago's Taste & More is a good choice because virtually everyone likes hot dogs.
"Kids can have plain ones, and adults can have a really great hot dog with all the trimmings," Irwin said.
The mall's free-standing restaurants, including Subway Sandwiches and El Chico's, attract sit-down diners, especially those who plan to attend a movie at the mall theater, Irwin said.
"We're in an industrial district, and there are not a lot of choices around us," Irwin said of the mall's regular lunch crowd of employees of nearby companies. "We're a logical destination, and that's why we're expanding."
Rohn Korman, manager at Festival International Bazaar at 2900 E. Pioneer Parkway, said shoppers at his east Arlington location are looking for variety.
"Everyone seems to enjoy the fact that we don't have a traditional food court," he said. The mall itself is nontraditional and multicultural, with a mix of shop spaces and a central bazaar-style shopping area with vendors' stalls.
The centerpiece of the mall's food offerings is a buffet adjacent to a couple of food-court spaces and a huge area of tables and chairs.
"We have a great Mexican buffet," Korman said, and indeed, the El Mexico de Mis Sabores takes up a full row of former food-court spaces, turning a corner and continuing down another row.
The $6.75 buffet is served from noon to closing Wednesdays through Sundays, Korman said.
"There are usually about seven different meats, rice and beans; they usually have a salad and a couple of desserts," Korman said. "And they have five different traditional Mexican punches made of flower petals."
Other food-court vendors include Burger King and the Round Rock Cafe, which serves Greek-style gyro ( pronounced "hero") sandwiches and chicken specialties.
The `Hometown Star' staff members' lunch consisted of tasty gyro sandwiches and a Philly cheese steak sub from Round Rock Cafe. The meats were tender and flavorful, cooked on the spot instead of rewarmed, and the breads were fresh and soft.
However, the Mexican buffet wasn't operational yet, although it was 1 p.m. on a Wednesday. Only hand-lettered signs marked off its territory in the food court.
Aesthetics count in mall cuisine, too.
The Parks at Arlington, 3811 S. Cooper St., made improvements to the second-floor food court along with the addition of a huge new wing to the mall.
There are still 13 food-court vendors, said Monica Vermea of The Parks' marketing department, but diners may think they're in a completely new space.
"The food court itself is newly painted, with new tables and chairs, and we added two new sections by the carousel," Vermea said.
Almost 500 new seats were added to the court, bringing available seating to 950.
"Basically, we doubled in size," Vermea said.
New to food-court shoppers this Christmas season at The Parks are Steak Escape, Sonic, Roman Delight pizza and pasta and Ninfa's Express ("a take-out version of our full-size Ninfa's," Vermea said.). A new Starbuck's, Pretzelmaker/TCBY and Haagen-Dazs have opened on the second floor beyond the food court.
Most of the action is at the back of the food court, near two new spectacular attractions: a full-size indoor carousel and a National Hockey League-size ice rink. That's where the `Hometown Star' crew sat for our review, picking out our favorite animals on the carousel (the long-eared rabbit and the yellow cat with a fish in its mouth were our top choices).
Foodwise it's hard to beat our choice of the Cajun Cafe's wonderful bourbon chicken with rice, steamed vegetables and an egg roll for under $5, although our colleagues enjoyed their fajitas and a taco salad from Ninfa's Express.
The Parks can't be beaten for people-watching, particularly if you're by the carousel or ice rink. The new food-court furniture, with cheery laminated wildflower photography on the tabletops, has more of a restaurant feel than the plastic stuff before.
Standing choices Malls must also plan for food service in addition to sit-down restaurants and food-court areas.
"Shoppers look for unusual things like impulse purchases," Irwin said of Six Flags Mall's snack spots such as the new Dippin Dots, joining Pretzels Etc.
Korman said Festival mall's cart vendors are very popular with shoppers. The carts are rolled throughout the mall during the day.
"Our fresh fruit vendor cuts up the fruit right in front of you and serves it to you," Korman said. The fruit, mostly regionally grown produce, comes from a large farmer's market in the west end of the mall where fruit and vegetables can be bought in bulk.
Roasted ears of corn are also sold from carts, and a pastry cart purveys sweets to shoppers.
"I try to pick and choose the food vendors," Korman said, adding that shoppers seem to enjoy both the mobile food and the sit-down dinners.
"Sometimes there's a real rush on the buffet, then other times it's a rush on the roasted corn or the pastry carts," Korman said. "It's sometimes unpredictable."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Kmart and Venture in Houston

Kmart to buy all but 3 Houston Venture stores/900 employees will be laid off
FRI 07/04/1997 HOUSTON CHRONICLE, Section Business, Page 1, 3 STAR Edition

Kmart Corp. is acquiring 20 Venture Stores, including most of those in Houston, where competition is fierce among discounters.
Ten Houston Venture stores will be sold, leaving three in operation, the company announced Thursday. After a going-out-business sale, Venture will lay off about 900 Houston employees.
Kmart will take possession of the stores by Sept. 15 and will renovate them and reopen them in time for the Christmas season.
Analysts have been expecting some casualties in the discount retail war, where Target, Kmart and Wal-Mart are dominant.
Venture, which entered the Houston market about five years ago, operates in some excellent, high-visibility locations that Kmart wanted to buy, said Ed Wulfe of the Wulfe & Co. realty firm. "It gives Kmart a very strong position in this market."
Kmart has 15 local stores now. The number will grow to 25 with the Venture acquisition.
A clearance sale will begin in a week or 10 days at the Venture stores that are closing, said Venture spokesman Cliff Campeau.
"It will be a savings from anywhere from 15, 50, 60 or 70 percent. The goal is to move the merchandise," Campeau said.
The three Venture stores that will remain open are those at 6802 Spencer Highway in Pasadena, 4553 Garth Road in Baytown and 7600 Westheimer near Voss.
Those three stores were probably rejected by Kmart because they are close to existing Kmarts, said Bob Sellingsloh of Wulfe & Co., which assisted Venture in locating sites in Houston.
The Venture stores that will be purchased by Kmart are located near West Oaks Mall, in the Clear Lake area, near Willowbrook Mall, in Meyerland Plaza, on the Northwest Freeway, on FM 1960, in Texas City, in Sugar Land, at 11542 Gulf Freeway and at 8300 W. Sam Houston.
"These stores fit well with Kmart's existing locations in key metropolitan areas and will add significantly to our market penetration in the Dallas and Houston markets," said Larry Kellar, vice president of real estate for Kmart, which has 2,122 stores.
The Venture stores being sold were selected because they weren't profitable, a Venture spokesman said.
The other stores being sold to Troy, Mich.-based Kmart include five in Dallas, two in Indianapolis, and one each in Tulsa, Okla., Des Moines, Iowa, and Waterloo, Iowa.

Continue reading the original article

I think this article is interesting, because in addition to basically explaining where all the Venture stores were (I thought the Sugar Land one survived?), it does lay inroads to how Kmart would pull out of Houston about six years after this article was written, with the old Kmarts now into other uses: converted into smaller spaces, second-rate tenants, or demolished entirely.

Venture would fare far worse: they declared bankruptcy in 1998 and closed all their stores.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Bazaar Renovation

This is a news article from 1999, not too long after Forum 303 Mall (briefly Forum Discount Mall, apparently) became "Festival Marketplace Mall", an interesting flea market-bazaar-mall idea. It didn't last too long due to market oversaturation, and was gone by the end of 2005.

Arlington mall goes `bazaar'
Dallas Business Journal by Ronni Sayewitz, Staff Writer
Date: Sunday, February 21, 1999, 11:00pm CST

Related News

Ronni Sayewitz
Staff Writer
ARLINGTON -- It got off to a rocky start. But the owner of Arlington's Festival Marketplace Mall hopes that a new management team, a wider variety of tenants and a million-dollar marketing push will re-establish the long-struggling retail center as a top shopping destination.
"We've been going through some growing pains," said Bob Yari, a Los Angeles-based real estate investor and president and owner of the Festival Marketplace. "This is a brand-new concept for the area, and it's going to take a year or two to get it on its feet."
Yari says the effort will be easier now that the property's top executives are in place.
The Marketplace completed a lengthy search for a general manager last month with the addition of Robert Cesare, longtime general manager of the Six Flags Mall in Arlington. Cesare replaced Bea Nave, who temporarily ran the Marketplace after its founding manager, Willard Hart, was shifted to the operations department.
Marcia Minnies, former marketing specialist for the city of North Richland Hills parks and recreation department and NRH20 Family Water Park, rounded out the mall's management team on Feb. 15 as the new director of marketing. She replaced Cindy Thompson, who left the Marketplace to pursue other opportunities.
"In hiring Bob we're showing a lot of confidence in him, because this is a very, very tough job," Yari said. "It's not a typical manager position where you come into a predetermined situation."
Yari, who owns 50 office and retail developments in Texas, bought the ailing Forum 303 Mall in 1994 for an undisclosed price after it was foreclosed on by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
The 28-year-old shopping center had lost its market position due to the decline of the surrounding area, as well as the arrival of sleek new competitors like The Parks at Arlington. Most of Forum 303's national tenants gradually abandoned the shopping center, except for a handful of stores like Montgomery Ward and Dillard's Clearance Center.

Yari first tried to resurrect the nearly 800,000-square-foot property as an outlet mall, and then as a discount outlet center. Later, he became intrigued with a unique bargain hunters' paradise in Pompano Beach, Fla.: the Festival Flea Market Mall.
That one-of-a-kind, 400,000-square-foot concept lures over 4 million shoppers a year by merging the festival atmosphere of a bazaar with the more upscale look and product mix of an outlet mall.
Last May, Yari introduced the concept to Texas by re-launching Forum 303 as the Festival Marketplace Mall.
The struggle to find alternative uses for dying malls is a trend at shopping centers nationwide, as a growing number of traditional tenants opt for the easier access and destination appeal of freestanding locations. The rise of Internet retailing and Main Street shopping areas have also contributed to the decline of malls, said Peter Carlsen, a partner in real estate consulting at Ernst & Young L.L.P. in Dallas.

"Regional malls in general have been hit hard in the last three to five years," he said. "The great locations like the Galleria will continue to serve as malls, but we've seen a lot of others retrofitted into other retail concepts, office uses, warehouses or call centers."
The Festival Marketplace concept is still evolving, Yari said. So far, he's plunked down $5 million to gut the interior of the building, make visual improvements, enlarge entryways and hire more security staff.

Yari also replaced the mall's traditional storefronts and walls with some 500 vendor booths and aisles. He recently purchased the mall's empty Service Merchandise store to make room for a second phase of expansion that could double the number of booths, Cesare said.
Today, the once-dreary shopping center lures new patrons with freshly painted walls, a bright red, yellow, blue and green decor and a massive children's play area completed in December.
Tourists and locals bargain in true-bazaar style for new, brand-name or handmade items at nearly 250 shops, including jewelry, electronics, apparel, home furnishings, ethnic novelties and toy outlets. There's also a variety of other uses, including a video arcade, a food court, sit-down restaurants, an AMC movie theater and a farmers' market.

"It's been a struggle, but things are starting to look up," said Deborah Whittington, who opened an art-and-crafts store at the Marketplace in December. "This is my very first business, and we already have bookings through August."
Owners of the Festival Flea Market in Florida acted as consultants for the Arlington project, although they don't have a financial stake in the property, Yari said. But if the Texas property is profitable, Yari said the two companies will use it as a prototype for a jointly launched chain of festival malls nationwide.

The mall owners are considering three cities to open their first joint venture within six months -- including Houston, where Yari already owns two enclosed shopping centers.

"If you go to the mall today, you know in advance every store it will have," Yari said. "The key to our success will be having a wide variety of tenants that encourages people to come here for things they can't find anywhere else."
The Festival Marketplace also fills a need in the market by offering small retailers a place to compete against large national chains, Yari added.

"It's a great place for people to get their feet wet for such a little amount of time and money," Cesare said. "You can rent a booth for $100 for a weekend, or get a kiosk on (a main hallway) for $1,000 a month."
Even so, analysts say the Marketplace may face a long uphill battle, considering its location in a neighborhood not regarded as a retail destination.

"Festival marketplaces have done very well in areas with significant office space, pedestrian traffic and tourist appeal," Carlsen said. "They're going to have to make up for the fact that there's not a big concentration of (those requirements) in the area."