Friday, November 14, 2008

More stores close up shop in Southeast

But others interested in opening businesses By Suzanne Normand Blackwood • THE TENNESSEAN • November 14, 2008 In Southeast Davidson County, mom-and-pops and big box stores alike are feeling the strain of the economic crisis. Circuit City announced recently it would be closing four stores in Tennessee, including its Hickory Hollow store. The Cozy Corner Café inside Lenox Village on Nolensville Road closed recently. And Island Sports and Designer Consignor inside the Shoppes at Home Depot on Bell Road have closed. Daniel Gordon, owner of Island Sports, said traffic had been slow leading up to the store's expiration date on its lease. He said this was particularly challenging, since the store already had prices lower than its counterparts. "We're much cheaper than everybody," he said. But although their prices are higher, competition from sporting good chains made it hard for him to stay in business, he said. "That's been very disheartening," he said. Gordon said not having a big advertising budget didn't help. He said it's expensive to advertise, especially on a consistent basis and on a large scale. "That's money we don't have in our budget," he said. Initially, Gordon said he considered getting a loan. But because of the economic crisis, "we couldn't get any more small business loans." That later changed with the federal government's economic aid package. By then, though, Gordon had decided it was not in his best interest to get a loan. Lenox still find tenants Dave McGowan, president of Lenox Village, LLC, said business had fallen off for Cozy Corner Café. After the café's lease expired, "they decided not to go forward," he said. "In this business, what you find is some make it and some don't. "Consumer confidence is way down," he said, and this is having a detrimental effect on retail. "It's a tough economy right now. What you do is try to work with (tenants) the best way you can." However, McGowan said, he believes that, after the first of the year, consumer confidence will build back up. Already, he has interested tenants who are not letting the economic crisis deter them. A family practitioner, a stock brokerage firm, a bakery, a children's clothing store, a coffee shop and a Mongolian stir-fry are planning to move in to the commercial section of Lenox Village. "We're continuing to attract business," McGowan said. Also, "residential sales are still strong," he said, adding Lenox Village will have closed on 100 homes by the end of the year. Closing sales planned But Gordon, who is from Jamaica, described the economic crisis for small business owners right now as "very stressful." "You put all your money in it, all your savings, and then watch it disappear," he said. Island Sports, which is having the last two days of its clearance sale today, Nov. 14, and tomorrow, Nov. 15, specializes in athletic wear and in standard school attire for Metro Schools. The store is offering its merchandise, excluding standard school attire, at 50 percent off. The clearance sale coincides with that of Designer Consignor next door. Gordon said the store has been offering its standard school attire through its Web site for the last few weeks and plans to continue online sales for standard school attire only after Nov. 15. "We're going to reorganize," he said. "Our main focus will be online." Gordon said he is interested in selling the business if he has an interested buyer. He is also willing to donate some of the merchandise to charity if he doesn't sell the business, he said.

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