Archive for Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Maurices clothing store leaves downtown Lawrence for South Iowa Street location

June 10, 2009


Maurice's leaves downtown

A longtime downtown Lawrence retailer is moving to the south side of town. Enlarge video

Another longtime retailer is leaving downtown.

Maurices, a retailer of women’s clothing in downtown for about 20 years, has closed its store at 739 Mass. in preparation for a move to South Iowa Street.

“We really just wanted to be around more like businesses,” said Khara Loeppke, store manager.

Maurices has signed a deal to occupy newly constructed store space at 3226 S. Iowa St., which is adjacent to the Famous Footwear store and is in the same shopping center as Kohl’s Department Store. The store is expected to open to the public at 10 a.m. Friday.

Loeppke said the size of the store will be about the same as the store’s downtown location, but it’s better designed to allow for more merchandise.

She said the main reason the company decided to move the store was for a change in atmosphere.

“Downtown seems to cater more to specialty shops and restaurants, and the hours out here are more comparable to ours,” Loeppke said.

Maurices was one of the handful of downtown retailers that stayed open until 9 p.m. on a regular basis. Downtown leaders have been discussing whether retailers should stay open later, but there’s been a lack of consensus.

At a meeting on Wednesday, members of Downtown Lawrence Inc. directed the organization’s executive director to put together data on what type of sales volume downtown stores have had by staying open later.

“We definitely want to maintain a variety of retail options, and we still think we do have a great variety,” said Jane Pennington, executive director of Downtown Lawrence Inc.

Loeppke said, to her knowledge, a new tenant for Maurices’ former downtown space had not yet been found. The move comes after Arensberg Shoes, Silver Works and More, and The Palace Cards & Gifts all announced earlier this year that they were closing their downtown stores.


Steve Jacob 8 years, 11 months ago

Retail is dead downtown, this has to be proof of that. Leave a place for 20 years for South Lawrence?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 11 months ago

Blue Heron is quitting business as well. Lawrence downtown cannot survive as a bar cafe haven because only so many of anything can survive. Manhattan may do it okay but Manhattan is not located near anything such as a vibrant shopping and cultural center like KCMO/JOCO metro.

I would rather imagine that a fair amount of "drive by" traffic has disappeared from 31st and Iowa with the opening of the new Wal-Mart. And when Baur Farms opens there will be less and less retail dollars to go around and less retail traffic at 31st and Iowa.

My guess is more shoppers will drive to KCMO/JOCO metro and Topeka for selection and price..... as Oak Park Mall knows. Oak Park Mall is well aware of their Lawrence shoppers so I hear.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 11 months ago

i don't like to hear this. lawrence has one of the best downtowns in the midwest. i really hope they fill the spaces that are left.

blindrabbit 8 years, 11 months ago

Want to see the rapidly approaching future of downtown Lawrence; take a drive down Kansas Avenue in Topeka or Main Street in Ottawa. Dead stores and empty store fronts all over the place. Lawrence has no excuse other than bad planning and coordination! Many/most up-scale university towns have done much better than Lawrence at preserving. The Downtown Lawrence Assn. is a dead horse, along with a missing Chamber and a City Commission/Manager who have added to the problem. More evidence: The Watkins Museum, the apparent problems at The Arts Center, issues with the Library!!! What's the Matter with Kansas (Lawrence)???

BigPrune 8 years, 11 months ago

It's hard to justify the highest rents in town when there just isn't comparable traffic to that of South Iowa. The market is adjusting. Except for the past 10 years or so, downtown used to be the lowest rent district in town for decades preceeding the unjustified increase. Unjustified by hype perhaps.

CLARKKENT 8 years, 11 months ago


parlet 8 years, 11 months ago

blindrabbit (Anonymous) says… "The Downtown Lawrence Assn. is a dead horse, along with a missing Chamber and a City Commission/Manager who have added to the problem. More evidence: The Watkins Museum, the apparent problems at The Arts Center, issues with the Library!!! What's the Matter with Kansas (Lawrence)???"


You said it, rabbit. The Chamber, the Commission and the City Manager's office--all in the pockets of greedy, careless local developers--are killing retail life downtown. Let's sweep all these bums out of office. Starting anew can't be any worse than the situation these "government" puppets-for-sale have gotten us into.

BigPrune 8 years, 11 months ago

parlet, it's more like downtown property owners wanting a higher rent from businesses.

Danimal 8 years, 11 months ago

Lawrence's history of just building more and more retail and commercial space whether or not their is a demand is catching up to it. I also think that the parking situation downtown has a good deal to do with downtown's decline. I don't mind walking a few blocks to get from my car to wherever I'm going, but I'm not sure that the same can be said for most people these days. Throw in getting harassed by the pan handlers and homeless every time you go downtown and I can understand why businesses are leaving for greener pastures.

lawrencechick 8 years, 11 months ago

Downtown will die fast unless they get some national anchor stores in there. You cannot cater to one segement of the population and expect to survive.

Practicality 8 years, 11 months ago

Smart business move Maurices, smart.

When other businesses realize that they have to cater to their customers and not expect their customers to cater to them, I believe we will see even a bigger shake up of stores downtown.

Best of luck at your new location Maurices.

George_Braziller 8 years, 11 months ago

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Get something downtown that isn't just food, alcohol, or entertainment related and make it a place where you need to go during the day. I've watched it over the last 25 years slowly turn dangerously close to being another Aggieville.

Otherwise just acknowledge it has become the de facto entertainment district and treat it accordingly and make sure regulations are in place.

sjwilson 8 years, 11 months ago

Yup. And the boneheads who "run" this city have an answer. Let's raise parking fees. Let me get this straight. We taxpayers doled out 1.6M to facilitate turn lanes at 31st and Iowa for the nice folks at Best Buy and Home Depot. Gee, what's it cost to park there? For that matter, what does it cost to park anywhere else one might choose to shop in Lawrence? Answer: nothing, unless you're downtown. So, lip service is given perpetually to downtown by the city uncles (I can't dignify them with the term fathers); meanwhile, they do everything they can to keep people from coming downtown. If they confronted frankly the fact that downtown is a mixed use district (retail, office, entertainment, residential) they would appreciate that customers who want to dine and shop downtown are hard pressed to do so in two hours without having to run to the meter (or to freaking MOVE their car). Do they need to do this anywhere else in town? Nope. Kansas City? Only a very few places. Topeka? Nah.



Keith 8 years, 11 months ago

"puzzler (Anonymous) says…

What's a Baur Farm?"

It's a place where you can spend 1% more in sales tax to buy the same stuff you can get elsewhere.

7texdude 8 years, 11 months ago

Retail is dead downtown, this has to be proof of that. Leave a place for 20 years for South Lawrence?

If you are a retailer, why would you want to own a business downtown? The average shopper like me is being driven away by high parking fines, homeless harasment and traffic. I know that is a negative way to put it, but I never go downtown any more unless to get a beer somewhere at night. It's not worth the trouble.

George_Braziller 8 years, 11 months ago

The only problem with the distric representation is that the old existing neighborhoods get screwed in the process. The rabid growth to the west of Lawrence would mean that there wouldn't be enough representation of areas like the Barker, Old West, North, and East Lawrence neighborhoods.

If you go with neighborhood representation the commission gets way too big.

Moderateguy 8 years, 11 months ago

Bums and Panhandlers are what is killing the retail downtown. Retail downtown relies on out of town visitors as well. I've all but stopped taking my family downtown due to the aggressive panhandling. If I lived in Kansas City, there is no way I would make a 40 plus minute drive to put up with it. We have built it, and they (the bums) have come. Wake up City of Lawrence!

alm77 8 years, 11 months ago

It never ceases to amaze me how the same people who declare "Downtown is dead!" in one sentence then go on to complain about the lack of parking and "traffic jams" in the next. If downtown were truly so dead, there would be no traffic, nor lack of parking space. I'm down there nearly every day and there are plenty of people shopping, eating and drinking where ever I go.

To make a sweeping generalization, the downtown crowd doesn't like chain stores. I would say that is the reason for the move. We didn't lose Au Marche or Third Planet. We didn't even lose Game Nut (which has a competitor on South Iowa). It wasn't Joe College, White Chocolate (who just expanded), Hobbs or Waxman that closed. It was Maurice's; a chain store.

To all you Chicken Littles who drive 35 miles to save on sales tax (just to spend more than you saved in gas alone, doh!) or complain about the parking are probably such tight wads no one downtown really ever got many of your dollars anyway. I doubt very much that you're missed.

whitecho 8 years, 11 months ago

alm77, well put. i agree wholeheartedly.

I was just in three other downtowns in KS on Sunday: Hays, Abilene, Topeka. Just comparing things I guess. It's sorta my business, I own a business downtown in two KS towns (hys & lwrnc). None had anything going on compared to downtown Lawrence.

haters bring it on? i'm gone.

one2no 8 years, 11 months ago

Well it was just yesterday that City Manger Dave Cluelis said they were going to raise the parking down town.Good Luck.

Anne Tangeman 8 years, 11 months ago

I love downtown Lawrence but it is disturbing to see so many businesses folding up and some moving out - the rents are too high. I hope the stores coming in can stick around. Do we really want a downtown full of corporate places that folks can find in any city? People come to Lawrence because it's unique. Fly by nights like the t shirt shop on the corner of 9th and Mass are not real anchors. And for those who think downtown is dead - our downtown is vibrant from early morning to late late night. It's not always pretty but it's interesting and it's real life.

tir 8 years, 11 months ago

I saw a sign at BoMo saying that they were having a "moving sale". Anyone know if they are moving into one of the newly-vacant buildings downtown or moving to South Iowa too?

Kat Christian 8 years, 11 months ago

It's nice that Lawrence wants to maintain the counter culture of downtown, but times have changed so has the economy. Too many bars and restaurants downtown and mostly young people venture down there for the purpose of eating and drinking. I don't like to come downtown when I know the young folks are our and about. They aren't interested in shopping. Plus store close too early. I'd hate to see the downtown area die, but something needs to happen fast.

motocross 8 years, 11 months ago

It's beacuse of the FREAKING bums and panhandlers... Nobody wants to take their sweet young children down there to be harassed by stinky annoying people...."hey man, you got a quarter for a call"....please It's an embarrassment to Lawrence.....

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 11 months ago

Its called business people and it appears to be a good business move. The only sure bet is that nothing stays the same. Times are a changin'. Grandpa and Grandma's downtown is on life support and slippin' fast, sad but thats the way it goes.

Danny Novo 8 years, 11 months ago

Downtown Lawrence should seriously consider turning Mass into a pedestrian mall, from 7th to 9th Streets. A stage, fountains, a playground... make it a place for people to hang out, not just a place to drive and shop.

blindrabbit 8 years, 11 months ago

Lots of good ideas posted on this, a lot of nutty ones. As a former business owner downtown and DLI member, I can tell you the DLI, the Chamber and the City are clueless as what to do. What we need is an open forum to discuss the variety of ideas. The "high rents" have been the "whipping boy" of the decline; while rents are probably higher than they should be, this excuse has blinded people to the real issues. Here are the real ones!!

NUMBER 1: Aggressive panhandling and the "homelessness issues", scares shoppers away. Our customers told us this ALL THE TIME !!!

Dirty and trashy streets and sidewalks. Butts and gum

Parking issues. Many to discuss


No public restrooms

Mixed-up stay-open hours!

No downtown anchor stores

No outdoor artistic/musical demonstration venue

Too much midwestern lack of ideas! Lawrence is different than the rest of Kansas, but still Midwestern!

Need to return the town/gown connection, Hemenway has been counterproductive to this

Too many opposing vested interests; many want Lawrence to return to the 1960's.

There are answers, but not the doers. Best of luck!

parlet 8 years, 11 months ago

blindrabbit (Anonymous) says… "number 1: Aggressive panhandling and the “homelessness issues”, scares shoppers away. Our customers told us this all the time !!!"

Beat cops. Two cops patrolling Mass and adjacent streets seven days a week. Not a novel idea, but tried and true.

Kat Christian 8 years, 11 months ago

If they turn downtown into a mall I'm leaving Lawrence, because downtown is my attraction to this place for one thing. I love downtown, but there are too many restaurants. They cater too much to the students and the stores a never open when I can shop, also prices are too high and I understand why because they have to pay such high rents. Now the bums have never detered me I just tell them NO. Parking is now becoming a problem after all these years of living here. I think too many people don't want change, yet change is what makes progress. I don't like it either but sometimes you have have no choice. It doen't have to be a drastic change just changes toward progression and I don't see this happening in downtown.

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