Bath, perfume stores due at Outlets in June|[05/14/08]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Two stores have plans to open next month at the Outlets at Vicksburg, manager Margaret Gilmer said.

“I don’t think there’s anything more positive than to have stores come in at this less-than-exciting retail time. I think it speaks well for our area,” she said. “With the hotels that are being built around us, it should put people in here. We’re excited.”

As two neighboring hotel developments, Courtyard by Marriott and LaQuinta Inn, near completion, the mall will welcome Bath & Body Works and Perfumania, two stores that bring types of products never offered at the Vicksburg center, Gilmer said. Both shops are expected to open in June. She said their decisions to locate to the Vicksburg center shows confidence in the market.

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“Retail is down this year compared to last year. I think they’re anticipating a 5 percent decrease in same-store sales overall. And, because the retailers have anticipated this, that’s why a lot of them have put their expansions on hold,” Gilmer said. “I think it speaks well with these stores that are getting ready to open. They felt comfortable enough about our area and our tenants and felt like it’s a stable area.”

Bath & Body Works, which had a store at Pemberton Square mall until 2004, specializes in lotions, bath items, persona-care items and home fragrances. Gilmer said the store, which will be in a 3,000-square-foot retail space next to Gap Outlet, a mall anchor, will have a different format from its usual retail stores.

“The price points are excellent. It was created for outlet centers,” she said of the newer format.

Bath & Body Works, founded in 1990 under the Limited Brands umbrella, which includes Victoria’s Secret, will hire about 20 employees for the local store, Gilmer said.

“It’s going to be a great fit. We’ve not had this category of tenant in before. There’s been a void,” Gilmer said. “With Bath & Body Works coming in next to The Gap, I think their sales will be phenomenal.”

Perfumania sells name-brand perfumes and colognes at discount prices.

The two openings mark the first new stores to join the 30-store property since 2006 when Carter’s, a baby clothing store, came aboard. Since opening in 1995, the mall has had little turnover with tenants, Gilmer said, noting that about 90 percent of the current tenants have been there from the beginning.

“Most all of the stores we lost are tenants who are no longer in business,” she said.

In December 2007, two chain stores, Bible Factory Outlet and Welcome Home closed their doors locally, reflecting corporate closings. Formerly known as Vicksburg Factory Outlets, the mall joined with Craig Realty in 2005, a move that, in addition to a name change, anticipated an increase in retail stores, Gilmer said. Even though it’s taken a while to make adjustments – figuring out what spaces fit with certain tenants – she expects only one vacancy by the end of the summer. Gilmer said the mall currently has five vacancies – excluding the two that will be filled next month. Of those five, only one, the former home of the Bible Factory Outlet, is not spoken for, she added.

A facelift to the facade of the building, built in 1995 with $1.1 million tax-increment financing from Vicksburg and Warren County, is also in the works for the summer. The renovation could include the removal of the signature blue canopy and new signs, Gilmer said.