Hearne: Hold the Hype, Trader Joe’s Having Little Effect on Ward Parkway Center

When it comes to Ward Parkway Center, all that glitters is not Trader Joe’s

Forget what you may have read, according to the retailers I interviewed Tuesday at the center, the much ballyhooed arrival of Trader Joe’s last summer had little to no positive effect on their businesses. And we’re talking about a fairly large cross section. Fom Sports Nutz to Green Smoke, Sprint to Claire’s, Bath & Body Works to Pier One.

Even the mall rental cop, when asked if the upstairs part of the mall had benefitted from Trader Joe’s answered, "No. There’s not much traffic."

All agreed Trader Joe’s has yet to bring any measurable additional biz to their stores.

"They haven’t had too much of an effect at all," says Sports Nutz GM Frank Hernandez. "They did the first week when people were coming into the mall and they weren’t sure where (Trader Joe’s) was at."

Once folks figured out it was on the far end of the mall with it’s own separate entrance the Trader Joe’s spillover phenomenon was o-v-e-r.

"People go in there," Hernandez says. "But I’ve hardly ever seen anybody (here) with a bag on their arm from Trader Joe’s."

The Green Smoke kiosk dude says he maybe got a "little bit" of TJ biz early on, "but then once they figured out where it was, they started parking on that end of the mall."

How about Sprint, any TJ action there?

"You would think we would but we haven’t," said a sales grrrl, excited the company would begin taking iPhone 4 S orders this Friday. "But you know, a lot of people when they have groceries, they don’t want to shop."

Good point.

Who’s wants to race up and down a mall lugging groceries while their Ben & Jerry’s turns into soup?

Claire’s is arguably the main level Ward Parkway biz closest to Trader Joe’s. Any TJ biz coming its way?

"No," a Claire’s staffer said. "We’ve had people come in and ask us how to get there."

Ditto for the woman I spoke with at Bath & Body Works…

"Because a lot of people don’t know we’re up here," she says. "I feel like if we had a little marketing down there to let people know the stores are up here (maybe we would)."

A Pier One staffer told me they had some traffic early on – refugees if you will – after Trader Joe’s first opened.

"But mostly people who said it was too crowded to shop there," she added. "So they came up here and said they’d come back when Trader Joe’s had been open a little longer."

The Star‘s Joyce Smith – if predictably – has painted another picture of Trader Joe’s effect on the mall.

But rather actually talk to Ward Parkway tenants she’s continued to traffic in hyperbole like the recent item about Mr. Bulky’s leaving to make room for tenants anxious to open there "thanks to all the traffic from the new Trader Joe’s store."

Not a big surprise, given I bumped into Smith at TJ’s early on asking a staffer where she could pick up her free Trader Joe’s promotional shopping bag the store was giving away but had run out of.

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13 Responses to Hearne: Hold the Hype, Trader Joe’s Having Little Effect on Ward Parkway Center

  1. chuck says:

    Ward Parkway is a guidon, a cairn

    Wake up. Dumbass.


    All over America, white people, are being killed, beatin, raped, intimidated by the main stream media, and the actual perps, who kill, rape and steal our country’s future.

    Quit buying into the bullshit, that is the KC Star.

    Stop NOW!! African American Violence, no matter WHAT the cost.

  2. chuck says:

    Stop African American violence, no matter
    what the cost.

    It MUST stop!!

  3. Super Dave says:

    Well Gee Reality Settles In
    Sounds like the girl at the Sprint store is only one who has a clue.

    I went in to the Ward Parkway store just this last Friday to check out the wine section that I had been hearing so much about. Not to bad I must admit some bargins as well to be found.

    Overall the store was what I would call doing a brisk business and the help was all busy making sure everyone was enjoying their shopping event. The store is what it is I walked around seen some different things and prices seem to be fair and about the same of other stores more or less so ok place to me to shop. But is to me no way a full service grocery store as some seen to think it is.

    Every shopping center around always seems to think the new store is going to save every ones ass when it opens and face it it is not going to do so. If you don’t have people coming to buy your items now a new store is not overall going to help you much when you then have to make the shopper spend their money in your place instead of the new place. False hope is what it is called and sad when so many Americans think that someone else is always going to ease their woes.

  4. Hearne Christopher says:

    I agree.

    However, I think it’s the center that is putting out the hype and local media who are trying and convey the appearance that a savior has arrived. Most locals know Ward Parkway has had a difficult time of it for – decades, really at this point – and because of it’s history and location want it to succeed,

    It’s just such a convoluted proposition.

    I was just trying to address the hype. Which frankly, I wish was true.

  5. Merle Tagladucci says:

    Oak Park Mall and Independence Center. That’s all we’ve got left. Nope…Metro North doesn’t count. Nobody with any sense moves up there. Blue Ridge Mall…desolate for years…then gone. Bannister Mall…desolate for years…then gone. Ward Parkway…not desolate by any means but, well…certainly not a mall anymore. Remember Putsch’s Cafeteria on the west side, with the “sidewalk” tables? Remember Cinnabuns downstairs and B. Dalton Booksellers on the corner by the escalators? Where have all the good times gone?

    The shopping malls of yesteryear bring back so many fond memories, it’s too bad we can’t stroll through there like the old days and conjure up the smells that used to waft over from In-a-Tub Taco or Nu-Way Burgers inside Blue Ridge Mall. I even enjoyed eating at the Woolworth’s diner and can remember bellying up to the counter on one of those stools to eat a grilled cheese and fries with my grandmother…talk about memories. Across the way there was the coolest mall bookstore in town, Anderson’s. Just walking around in there was cool. Russel Stover’s on the corner there, where I never bought anything and always thought was for rich people. Then there was the great Cone-a-Copia…holy moly…a pit stop at Cone-a-Copia would be enough to make the entire day a success. How about those uber-cool movie theatres downstairs with the old style box office window and the arcade across the way. That mall was a bona fide kid’s paradise. Speaking of downstairs, how about the rotating hot dog carousel? I wouldn’t even be hungry but I’d throw a fit if my mom didn’t take me down there so I could get on that merry-go-round and snarf down a cheese dog. There was a Putsch’s there too, probably my grandparents’ favorite place to eat in town. And of course Brothers Pets and Fish, who could forget that place? There was a set of stairs over across from Jones that would lead you down into a maze of long halls and corridors that were great for running around as a kid. The old days, when you would have to go inside the Jones Store all the way back to customer service to buy game and concert tickets from the “Ticketmaster” counter, where a Jones Store employee would have to stop what they were doing to come over and assist you. I even remember when Lens Crafters opened and man was that a banner day for mall shoppers. Glasses in an hour? Are we dreaming?! At Christmas time every year, Santa would be positioned in the middle of the mall and the line of parents and kids waiting to get a picture taken would run straight down the middle back towards Jones. Somewhere in my basement in a box are pictures of me on Santa’s lap taken there in the late 70s. Same thing with the Easter Bunny. Man, Blue Ridge Mall was fun. Not sure why a post about Trader Joe’s and Ward Parkway sent me down the Blue Ridge Mall memory lane but Hearne the old malls of KC and all the memories your readers have tucked away might good reading if you come down with a case of writer’s block one day.

  6. Hearne Christopher says:

    One day? Writer’s block is my stock in trade!

    Seriously though, just setting aside the time in these difficult times is my main problem. If all I had to do was choke out a column like when I was at the STAR it’d be as easy as pie.

    I will however set aside the time to revisit some of KC’s classic local malls and weigh in on their forlorn states.

  7. chuck says:

    KC is East St. Louis
    Lay down and take your beating.

    Ward Parkway is the Landing in 12 years.

    ADC, EBT, Snap cards, Section 8, Welfare and the litany of free programs, dedicated to increasing the population of folks who despise America, and turn every city, county and state, into Detroit, must stop.

    Kansas City is the 2nd largest city in the US by area. That tax base is the only thing that keeps it afloat, in spite of the drain on its coffers by thugs and corrupt politicians.

    Yesterday, got a call from a friend in LA.

    Got mugged and beat by African Americans at LUNCH!!

    Have a nice day.

  8. chuck says:

    One more time
    He was going to lunch!!

  9. bschloz says:

    – Negative
    Business people love to complain.
    Ward Parkway getting Trader Joe’s was like Triple Lindy Grand Slam Home Run for the Center. QED
    Super Great Fantastic.

    @ Merle nice post.

  10. Hearne Christopher says:

    Clearly it was a great deal for the mall ownership – they’re clipping the rent coupons on a stable tenant.

    The point being, it’s not helping the mall’s other struggling tenants much if any

  11. kcfred says:

    Aint Trader Joes fault
    …that no one is going to any other stores. Maybe they need to have the same a)message that Trader Joes is putting out or b) people aren’t interested in their stuff. Something is working for Trader Joes, and if the rest of Ward Parkway can’t figure out how to grab those people then maybe they need a new advertising message. Quitcherbitchi and be happy someone’s making some dough, if there rest of them can’t figure it out…too bad. Come up with something new…

  12. Super Dave says:

    You Know Hearne
    This story and your other story World Wide Web in some ways share the same issues.

    Yes Red Development pumped up the volume to the media on Traders coming so those rent checks flowed on in on time no less they hope. And yes they can then use the numbers from Traders customers coming to the center to help make other companys want to sign a 5 or more year lease with them. And as well hope that maybe people wil drive around and check out the rest of the place but we all know how that will go. In the end Red will pump up the numbers some then sell the center at a profit and the dog and pony show starts all over with a different realty company and new owners making all the same promises Red did.

    Why do the other stores struggle? I have no idea I remember the days from the past just as Merle did. Only real difference is that my memories go back to early 60’s. I remember going to the Landing in the 60’s with my mother as she was in some of her money spending fevers. Metcalf Shopping Center during the week 30 years ago had more people in it than they do in a month now. Oak Park a few months ago was busy on a Saturday now rather or not anyone was making any money is another issue. But the people are out there and they are going some place so why are some of these malls hurting. I just might make a run to Ward Parkway again and see what is there and what is going on. I am starting to get an interest in this.

  13. bschloz says:

    “The point being, it’s not helping the mall’s other struggling tenants much if any”

    Not sure I understand. It’s not TJ’s job or the Center’s job to sell track shoes or bulk candy.
    My bet is that it’s been great for SBUX TGT and the entire State Line corridor.
    Ask them if they think sales would be better with out Trader Joe’s.

    Also the place is a couple of months old….I’ve been to WP about 3 or 4 times this summer up from 0 in the last few years. Give it some time.

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