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Archive for Wednesday, January 20, 1993

LOCAL RETAILER TO CLOSE KC STORE

January 20, 1993

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A Lawrence retailer says he's pulling the plug on a satellite store he operated during the holiday season in Seville Square on Kansas City's Country Club Plaza.

George Paley, co-owner of Natural Way, a natural fiber clothing store at 820 Mass., said the Kansas City Natural Way store he opened in November will close Sunday.

Paley said the store, which was located on the second floor of Seville Square, a multistory collection of shops, was relatively successful during the holidays. However, Paley said he didn't believe Natural Way could realize its potential on the Plaza unless it found a street-level location.

Making Natural Way a street-level player either wasn't in the plans for the J.C. Nichols Co., owner of the Plaza, or just wasn't possible right now.

PALEY SAID he had asked to lease former Rubach's jewelry store building at 47th and Broadway but that the Nichols Co. had chosen another tenant, a men's clothing store, instead.

"They've decided that Harold's of Dallas was a better prospect than Natural Way of Lawrence," Paley said.

Lee Fowler, Nichols Co. vice president, said this morning that he was unaware that Natural Way was closing its doors.

"I thought they were staying on on a month-to-month basis," Fowler said. "If they're leaving, we're sorry to see them go."

Told that Paley was dissatisfied about not getting street-level space, Fowler said, "It just isn't available."

However, Paley said the location issue was critical. Natural Way would be forced to increase its marketing effort to compensate for the lower visibility afforded merchants whose stores are without street-level exposure.

"MY OPINION is I could make it at that location (Seville Square) if I was willing to put in the time, money and energy," Paley said.

"I've been pleasantly surprised at how much spill-over clientele there is from Lawrence to Kansas City," he said, noting that Kansas University alumni figured heavily in the Kansas City store's customer base during the holidays.

Paley said he's still interesting in trying to clone his store in other communities.

"There are other people around the country who want a Natural Way," he said, noting that interested parties from Sioux Falls, S.D., were among those who have scouted the Lawrence store.

ALSO, PALEY has teamed with Rick Stein, owner of Rick's Bike Shop, 916 Mass., to open a local franchise of Play It Again Sports, a chain of used sporting goods stores.

Paley said he and Stein bought the building at 1029 Mass., which currently houses the Rent to Own Center, which is looking for another location.

Paley said he expects the local Play It Again Sports franchise to open this summer. Dave Wright, a recent KU business school graduate, will manage it.

At the store, consumers will be able to buy, sell, trade or consign used sporting goods. The store will draw its inventory from idle athletic equipment that's gathering dust in people's garages, Paley said.

The store will buy its first batch of inventory from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday behind Rick's Bike Shop.

The Play It Again Sports chain, based in Minneapolis, had more than 200 stores in operation at the end of 1992 and expects to have 400 open at the end of this year, Paley said.

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