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National boutique Francesca's Collections coming to downtown; nearly 3,000 runners slated to participate in Saturday's Ugly Sweater Run; organizers planning to bring Color Run back for 2013
News and notes from around town:
• It appears another growing, national specialty retailer is targeting downtown Lawrence.
It looks like Francesca’s Collections is preparing to move into the long vacant space at 742 Massachusetts St. If you are having a hard time picturing that spot, it is just north of Teller’s restaurant.
I haven’t gotten confirmation from the company about the deal, but the retailer has filed for a sign permit at Lawrence City Hall. That’s usually a pretty good indication a deal has been sealed.
At first I was very excited about this news, but that was mainly because I misread the permit. I thought it was Fraschilla’s Collections, as in Fran Fraschilla, former St. John’s University basketball coach and current ESPN college basketball commentator. Just think of the wonders that man’s collections would include: Super industrial strength ear plugs to block out Dick Vitale, as well as tips on how to stay on Bob Knight’s good side. (Tip No. 1: Never meet Bob Knight.)
But no, this is Francesca’s Collections. I don’t know who Francesca is, but I’m sure there will be plenty of people excited about her entry into Lawrence. According to its Web site, the retailer is a traditional type of boutique that offers women’s clothing, bags, shoes, jewelry and a few gift items.
The company has at least four locations in the Kansas City metro area, including at Oak Park Mall, Town Center Plaza, and Country Club Plaza.
The deal continues a recent trend of growing national or regional retailers targeting downtown. Off the top of my head, there have been White House Black Market, Ten Thousand Villages, and if you remember, we reported last month a store called Earthbound Trading Company is coming to downtown, although we haven’t yet seen official word of which spot they will be taking.
• I don’t know if Francesca’s plans to sell ugly holiday sweaters, but you’ll have a chance to see plenty in downtown this weekend.
As we previously reported, an event called The Ugly Sweater Run is coming to downtown Lawrence. But we now have more details about the run. It is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday with the start/finish and celebration area slated for Watson Park. City officials believe the 2 p.m. start time will ensure all the horses from the Downtown Lawrence Old Fashioned Christmas Parade — which starts at 11 a.m. — will be cleared from the area. (Although it would be interesting to see how a 1,000-pound-plus draft horse reacts to a man in a lime green sweater adorned with candy canes, snow flakes and phrases that involve “ho, ho, ho.”)
But the big news is just how many people want to come to downtown Lawrence and run a race wearing an ugly sweater. Bob Sanner with the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau said 2,200 runners already have signed up for the event, and a favorable weather forecast has organizers hopeful the event will hit the 3,000 mark.
If this crazy event sounds a bit like the oddity that was The Color Run in September — an event in which runners wore white shirts and then got sprayed with colored corn starch — you are correct.
The same company that organized The Color Run is organizing the The Ugly Sweater Run, which also will be happening in nine other cities across the country.
Evidently the company thinks Lawrence is a good running community or else it has figured out that if you offer to sell beer outside afterward, locals will come to about any event. (Samuel Adams is the event sponsor of the Ugly Sweater Run, if that tells you anything about the post race celebration planned for Watson Park.)
Sanner confirmed race organizers are planning to bring The Color Run back to Lawrence in 2013. Organizers tentatively have set the date for Sept. 14. This year’s Color Run race drew about 7,000 runners to downtown.