Archive for Thursday, January 6, 2011

Town Talk: Talbots to close; Computers, women’s clothing top list of what people leave town to shop for

January 6, 2011


News and notes from around town:

• One of downtown Lawrence’s national chain retailers soon will be closing. Talbots will close its store at 646 Vt. on Jan. 22, according to employees at the shop. The store’s lease is expiring, and the company chose not to renew it, according to several sources. When the store opened 10 years ago, it was hoped to be the beginning of a trend to expand more retail uses onto Vermont Street. It also was part of a trend by members of the Fritzel family to bring several national retailers to properties they own in the northern end of downtown. Some, such as The Gap and American Eagle Outfitters, remain, while others like Abercrombie & Fitch and Eddie Bauer have left. A few new ones, such as Chico’s and Claire's have moved in.

There’s no word yet on whether a tenant has been found to take the Talbots space — although, as we previously reported, the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce will be moving its offices to the second floor space of the building. It will be interesting to see if the idea of retail on Vermont Street gets a boost following the completion of the Lawrence Public Library expansion. That project, of course, will include a new parking garage that will be less than a half block away from the Talbots location.

Perhaps even more interesting to watch will be whether proposals emerge to redevelop the existing but small city-owned parking lot at the corner of Seventh and Vermont streets once the larger city-owned parking garage is completed across the street.

• On the subject of retail, there are some interesting figures if you dig deep enough into the information that the city’s Retail Task Force has been reviewing. In particular, one report from the business information services firm of Claritas Inc. provides a general picture of how many retail sales dollars leave Lawrence and in what category.

One analysis could be that female shoppers and computer geeks are killing Lawrence’s retail scene. Computer purchases and women’s clothing purchases show up as the two categories that have the biggest percentage gap between the amount of purchases made by Lawrence residents and the amount of sales made by Lawrence retailers. The list below shows how large the gaps are for certain categories both in terms of dollars and then in terms of percentage. The numbers are for 2009.

  1. Cars and Trucks: $55.3 million (29.4 percent)
  2. Gasoline purchases: $48.2 million (39.5 percent)
  3. Women’s Juniors and Misses Wear: $26.2 million (52.3 percent)
  4. Computer Hardware, Software and Supplies: $18.3 million (73.9 percent)
  5. Furniture and Sleep Equipment: $9.8 million (49.5 percent)
  6. Men’s Wear: $9.4 million (38.6 percent)
  7. Lawn, garden and farm equipment supplies: $8.0 million (31.1 percent)
  8. Televisions, video recorders, video cameras: $7.2 million (41.6 percent)
  9. Jewelry: $7.0 million. (46.6 percent)
  10. Kitchenware and home furnishings: $6.1 million. (34.6 percent)

There are a handful of categories where Lawrence retailers have sales totals that are higher than the amount spent by Lawrence residents. Those areas are ones where the city is excelling at attracting consumers from outside the city. Lawrence is a grocery magnet — and perhaps more surprisingly — a lumber magnet. Lawrence retailers sold almost $21 million more in lumber and building materials than what Lawrence consumers purchased. I’m not sure what that means to the recent debate about whether Lowe’s should be allowed to build a store in Lawrence, but I’m sure you can discuss. Meals and snacks, which include those purchased at restaurants, also did well. Here’s the list of largest surpluses.

  1. Groceries: $51.9 million
  2. Lumber and building materials: $20.9 million
  3. Meals and snacks: $16.8 million
  4. Packaged liquor wine and beer: $13.5 million
  5. Books: $10.9 million
  6. Alcoholic drinks: $4.6 million
  7. Sewing, knitting and needlework goods: $1.1 million
  8. Paper and related products: $1.1 million
  9. Soaps, detergents and household cleaners: $839,761
  10. Audio equipment, musical instruments: $557,992

• Right before Christmas, Town Talk reported that the city’s boundaries actually shrank in 2010. Well, just like many waistlines during the holiday season, that didn’t end up being the case. Shortly after Town Talk printed the city numbers, City Hall revised them. It was determined that an annexation of nearly 50 acres along the Farmers' Turnpike and Queens Road extended would be finalized by the end of the year and should be included in the city’s 2010 boundary totals. So, if you are keeping score at home, the city’s boundaries grew by 47.59 acres in 2010. That is still the smallest amount of city growth since 2005.


loveroflarry 7 years, 4 months ago

Not surprised to hear about Talbots. If I were an older woman that had a lot of money to burn I'd shop there. (They did have a few items that would appeal to a younger generation of working women, but not enough to make a special trip there to shop).

If the claim is that Lawrence is taking a hit on women's clothing, perhaps look at the types of retail offered for younger women in the workforce and you'll see why. Women in their 30s don't like to look like teenagers OR 50 year-olds...

On another note, there used to be a women's undergarment store downtown...went there once, and they had some nifty things...maybe Lawrence ought to look into something like a Victoria's Secret. Just a thought.

somedude20 7 years, 4 months ago

still have Cilla's on 23rd st for all of your women's clothing

loveroflarry 7 years, 4 months ago

Well, kinda. If what I am looking for is related to magazines or toys (maybe even the occasional costume), then yes, it is the place to go--even though it's on 23rd, which is not exactly the ideal location for those that like to keep their biz private. However, if what I really want is more of the lingerie/bras/panties sort, then it's not really the place to go.

somedude20 7 years, 4 months ago

I was able to get all of my xmas shopping for my mother, aunt, and grandmother done there the trick is you just have to know where to look. I have seen some nice business casual outfits there

CreatureComforts 7 years, 4 months ago

"Naughty Secretary" doesn't count as business casual

somedude20 7 years, 4 months ago

Ha!! It would if i were the boss (even the fat ones can wear it)

hipgrrrrl 7 years, 4 months ago

There seems to be a reason as to why you are not the boss.

somedude20 7 years, 4 months ago

maybe not but I did stay at a holiday inn express

cozy 7 years, 4 months ago

We do need a victoria's secret here with all the college aged women here.

lilygrace 7 years, 4 months ago

I am really sorry to hear that Talbot's is closing. There are few places to get quality women's clothing here in town. Granted, I usually had to shop the sales, because they are a little pricey, but I always got the best service there. Guess I will have to drive to Topeka or KC or shop their catalog, now. Bummer.

livinginlawrence 7 years, 4 months ago

Hmm... I wonder if a full Apple retail store could ever find a place in downtown Lawrence. Especially considering the apparent absence of businesses here making serious sales in computers, it seems that an Apple store could be a big draw.

Of course, I know nothing about what Apple or the rest of Lawrence and the surrounding area would think about this. I think it would lend further diversity to the shopping experience, and could eat into that chunk of computer revenue leaving the city.

CreatureComforts 7 years, 4 months ago

I don't see any way an Apple store could survive profitably in Lawrence. Johnson County is one thing - larger, richer population. But Lawrence...yes, there are a lot of Apple fans here, but the idea of Apple opening up a store in a small city with relatively low wages (compared to JoCo) when an Apple store is a mere 40 miles or so away is, frankly, a bit crazy to me.

alm77 7 years, 4 months ago

There is the iCafe on 23rd. He's an authorized Apple retailer and not a chain (unless you consider two locations a "chain"). Good prices. GREAT service.

livinginlawrence 7 years, 4 months ago

Yes, about this you are right. I too have had only excellent experiences with the folks at iCafe. Their service (I had some warranty repairs done there) far exceeded my expectations.

slowplay 7 years, 4 months ago

I've lived here 6 years and never knew there was a Talbots in town.

"I wonder if a full Apple retail store could ever find a place in downtown Lawrence."... There are 2 Apple outlets in town already. Macxprts and the Tech Shop (KU Bookstore). They both offer a complete line up and full service.

walkthehawk 7 years, 4 months ago

what they DON'T offer, unfortunately, is the apple store experience . . . IMHO, apple has done better than any other retailer in making people actually want to visit their stores--just to visit, though it does encourage brand loyalty, impulse buying, and convenience purchasing--and neither Macxperts nor the KU Bookstore holds a candle to that (on the contrary, my experiences at the bookstore have been sup-par, service wise). Bring on the Apple store!

parrothead8 7 years, 4 months ago

"I’m not sure what that means to the recent debate about whether Lowe’s should be allowed to build a second store in Lawrence, but I’m sure you can discuss."

I think Lowe's should be required to build a FIRST store in Lawrence before they build a second store in Lawrence. I don't care how great of a company they are, they should not be allowed to undermine the laws of mathematics.

slowplay 7 years, 4 months ago

The numbers of dollars leaving Lawrence are skewed by the first 2 catagories. Autos and gasoline generate large dollar sales but minimum profits. Those dollars mean little when compared to lumber, meals and groceries, where not only are the profit margins higher, the cost of goods is spread out amongst many local suppliers.

CreatureComforts 7 years, 4 months ago

A lot of people also chose to buy outside of Lawrence, for their autos, when sales tax went up. Sales tax on a DVD or a shirt is one thing...sales tax on a $25,000 car is another, larger thing.

Gasoline...well, that's simple - a lot of people commute from Lawrence to elsewhere for work, such as Johnson County, KC and Topeka.

Brian Laird 7 years, 4 months ago

Actually, if a Lawrence resident buys a car from another location in Kansas that has a lower sales tax rate, they would still have to pay the difference between the Lawrence rate and the rate where they bought it when they registered the car in Douglas County. This is called the "Local Compensating Use Tax". So, it wouldn't really make a difference to a Lawrence resident if they buy a car in Lawrence or out of town.

However, there is an asymmetry in the law that would discourage someone from a low sales tax city in KS from buying a car in Lawrence in that they would not be refunded the difference. In other words, on autos you pay the higher of the sales taxes in the city of purchase and the city of residence.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

Any source for that idea?

Cars depreciate rapidly - they must have a pretty high profit margin at the dealers.

RogueThrill 7 years, 4 months ago

The lack of in-city computer hardware sales is not surprising. I don't really think it's possible for anyone local to compete with a company like NewEgg in terms of pricing or service.

Belinda Rehmer 7 years, 4 months ago

So sad Talbot's is leaving... however, I am with lilligrace. Talbot's did not make any money off me.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 4 months ago

"Even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayer at night can become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the moon is full and bright." Wait, that's the wrong Talbot. Never mind.

walkthehawk 7 years, 4 months ago

I know chain retail is not a lot of peoples' favorite thing around here . . . but a banana republic on Mass would do very well.

CreatureComforts 7 years, 4 months ago

I disagree. I think that is too high end for Lawrence.

walkthehawk 7 years, 4 months ago

as one of a cadre of people who leave town (not just to shop, but to shop at BR) for women's clothing, I think I might have my finger a bit closer to the market pulse on this one. just a hunch.

CreatureComforts 7 years, 4 months ago

I shop at BR quite often, in Overland Park. I would love if there were one in Lawrence...but I don't see it being successful.

Without knowing me, how dare you assume my character, knowledge or shopping habits.

allamerican4ever 7 years, 4 months ago

more than likely its the rents way to high. dowtown lawrence isnt upscale, but rent is

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

I know it is nostalgia but I use to go to weavers when I wanted something classy to wear. Now it feels like gap. I guess all the stores feel the need to be just like the others.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 4 months ago

You folks are whistling in the dark, which will be Lawrence lights out, if you don't make this city more business friendly.

cozy 7 years, 4 months ago

Gordmans is cheap and has excellent department selection. TJMaxx is too much like a thrift store. ehhh...

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

I think it's odd that the headline claims computer shoppers and women buying clothes elsewhere are the main culprits, when auto and gasoline sales make up 2/3 of the overall losses.

What's up with that?

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

This headline is demonstrably incorrect.

According to the article, cars and gasoline are the items at the top of the list.

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