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."
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.