The execs at Shoppes of Arbor Lakes had a comment or ten about my recent "MG boutique crisis" post. (As did some shoppers - check out their responses and weigh in.) They were quick to point out that Hot Mama and Goodthings aren't the only local stores - National Camera Exchange, North Star Home Fitness, Let's Dish and Pittsburgh Blue are also Minnesota companies. I didn't mention those because I was focused on true boutiques - clothing and gift shops that might draw shoppers from other parts of the metro.
But here are some other points worth sharing from the marketing team at Arbor Lakes:
-"Retail is constantly evolving as trends change. We work with our leasing department in order to find tenants with concepts that best reflect the market and compliment the existing mix of stores."
-"Rents are competitive with market pricing. While I cannot disclose the nature and terms of our deals, we work with local tenants to ensure that the rents will definitely allow them to 'pay the rent next door to a Pottery Barn or Gap'."
-"Rising gasoline prices and the housing downturn have been a factor in local and national tenant sales performance. Bombay and The Sharper Image closed stores nationwide as a result of bankruptcy. The economy is forcing retailers-- both local and national-- to close across the metro, not just in Maple Grove."
-"Our retail district features successful retail stores and restaurants such as Anthropologie, Trader Joe's, Pottery Barn, and P.F. Chang's that have limited locations in the Twin Cities. These tenants, coupled with successful locally owned tenants do create a distinct retail environment. Maple Grove features the second highest square footage of retail in Minnesota, second only to Bloomington."
All valid, interesting points. And it should be said that I enjoy the Shoppes on a sunny day, and if I lived nearby, I'm sure I would shop it all the time. But I don't feel compelled to rush there from other parts of the Twin Cities on a regular basis, since you can find most of the stores elsewhere. The setting is nice and neat, but because it does break from the traditional mall, I'd like to see the tenant mix do more of the same. One shopper commented that perhaps no one is interested in local boutiques - Maple Grove has so much else to offer. Maybe that's true - and hey, of course there are days when it's easier to dash into the Gap than to browse little specialty shops - but all that sameness gets a little boring.