Friday, August 26, 2011

Santana Row, A Shopping Adventure

Santana Row in San Jose is one of two lifestyle shopping centers in the Bay Area. When first conceived, lifestyle centers were billed as the "new" mall. Open air and with a street open to vehicular traffic. Since they were mixed-use, apartments and hotels could be build in the property, creating an instant urban village.

While lifestyle centers across the U.S. have been faring poorly, Santana Row in San Jose is an exception. Successful, popular, and nary a hint of the economic conditions that have affected so many families. Santana Row, in many ways, is reminiscent of a Main Street in Disneyland. Everything perfected down to the last detail. The shopping center is private, so photography is forbidden, among other things (loitering, panhandling, etc.). It's like going to the city without being reminded of the decay of urban society. Escapism. Yeah, it works.
CineArts Theater
So many cities have tried to emulate the success of Santana Row. The City of Fresno has looked at Santana Row as a model for reviving Fulton Mall, long since downtrodden. However, simply plowing a street down the center does not make for a successful shopping center. Santana Row has desirable stores as well as an affluent population base. These are just a few of the essential ingredients needed. Nevertheless as a consumer, it's a great place to hang out and have dinner.

Please see my updated review of Santana Row.



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Napa Premium Outlets - Bargains Galore

Alright, I admit it. I enjoy the factory outlet malls. I know this is a break with my keen interest in traditional shopping malls, but who can resist a bargain?

For years I'd go to an outlet mall and buy everything in sight. Later, I'd suffer from buyer's remorse due to the crappy seconds or the new understanding of why the merchandise was relegated to outlet status. Now I've learned to try everything on and if the first one doesn't fit, try a second one. Especially shoes. Stores like The Gap have even created stores exclusively for outlet malls. The clothes aren't seconds, but lower priced (and one could argue, quality). Nevertheless, you still feel like you are getting some great deals. By the crowds, I would say others agree.

I recently went to Napa Premium Outlets, the first time in many years. This easily is my favorite due to its great selection of stores and smaller size. I spent 3 hours there and visited about 25% of the stores, purchasing something at each one. Everything fit, everything looks good. I'm ready for fall.

The food selection at Napa Outlets was pretty low. Only three eateries this time (with another coming soon). However, come on, it's Napa! You are a stone's throw to some world-class restaurants. Make it a day.

Check out my updated review of Napa Premium Outlets.



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Top 10 Largest JC Penney Stores in Northern California and Reno

Find the top 10 largest JC Penney stores, by square footage, in Northern California and Reno.

1. 266,000 sq. ft. - Sunvalley Shopping Center, Concord, CA (largest in California, third largest in chain [after Plaza Las Americas in San Juan, PR, and Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, IL]).

2. 235,000 sq. ft. - Eastridge, San Jose, CA.

3. 224,000 sq. ft. - Stoneridge Shopping Center, Pleasanton, CA.

4. 223,000 sq. ft. - Shops at Tanforan, San Bruno, CA.

5. 216,000 sq. ft. - Fashion Fair, Fresno, CA.

6. 213,000 sq. ft. - Vallco Shopping Mall, Cupertino, CA.

7. 211,000 sq. ft. - Meadowood Mall, Reno, NV.

8. 201,000 sq. ft. - Coddingtown Mall, Santa Rosa, CA.

9. 200,000 sq. ft. - Sunrise Mall, Citrus Heights, CA.

10. 199,000 sq. ft. - Hilltop Mall, Richmond, CA.

Source: JC Penney Investor Fact Book 2010.

Note: When comparing JC Penney-published square footage to mall-published square footage, discrepancies occurred in every instance.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Bullock's North Receipt - 1985

Part of being a mall geek is doing strange things in order to obtain a piece of memorabilia. In 1985, my family went to San Mateo Fashion Island. Of course, we had to take a look at that great building that housed Bullock's. The tent design was a huge draw as a kid. Like, some sort of carnival on the side of the freeway. Being obssessed with the Bullock's logo, I decided I needed a bag. So, I bought the cheapest thing I could find, a greeting card. My hands, going numb because it was winter and the tent didn't provide any insulation, pulled out a dollar and the rest is history. This is a scan of the back of the Bullock's receipt. It lists the store locations with the San Mateo Fashion Island mall listed last.

In 1986, the Bullock's at San Mateo Fashion Island mall closed forever. It was the last of the northern California stores of the chain.

Bullock's of Los Angeles made their Bay Area debut in 1972 with a store at the tony Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto. Additional stores followed at Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, Vallco Fashion Park in Cupertino, Stonestown in San Francisco, Oakridge Mall in San Jose, and their last Bay Area store at San Mateo Fashion Island. In 1983, Bullock's exited the Bay Area market with Nordstrom purchasing most of their locations. Although the reason why Bullock's left this store open for an additional 3 years wasn't clear. Some speculate it was due to them needing to keep a presence in Northern California for credit card holders. Others speculate it was the Hahn Company (owners of San Mateo Fashion Island) forcing them to keep the store open for 5 years.

The Bullock's in Southern California were eventually purchased by the parent of Macy's and ultimately assimilated into Macy's. Bullock's is just a retail memory.


Sunday, August 07, 2011

Emporium-Capwell Valley Fair Directory 1986

Back in the day, department stores used to print store directories so you could easily find the department you wanted. This scan is from Emporium-Capwell at the Valley Fair mall, shortly after the rebuilt mall opened in 1986.

Among the interesting departments, you'll find not one, but two gift wrap stations. Gift wrapping at departments stores is now extinct. You might get lucky if you can get a box at the holidays, but certainly not have someone wrap the gift for you. Now that's service.

In 1986, department stores like Emporium-Capwell and Macy's were also in the business of selling electronics and TVs. Least until the Good Guys and Circuit City came on the scene. Interestingly enough, those stores are also gone.

Extinct services at department stores included watch repair, culinary advising, flower arranging, and travel agents. We all could use a little culinary advisement now and then.

Who remembers buying tickets for the Thompson Twins concert at the Emporium? It was a Ticketron outlet, too. Department stores sure have changed.


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Neiman Marcus Poised to Open in Walnut Creek in 2012

The swanky new Neiman Marcus in Walnut Creek is set to open on March 8, 2012.

The addition of Neiman Marcus to Broadway Plaza is considered the pièce de résistance of the shopping center and downtown Walnut Creek. The site originally hosted JC Penney, giving way to McCaulou's, and then David M. Brian.

Neiman Marcus has selected four charities to benefit from its grand opening gala:
  • Diablo Regional Arts Association - An organization that supports artistic enrichment and the arts at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek.
  • Junior League of Oakland-East Bay - An organization of women who promote volunteerism and improving communities.
  • Monument Crisis Center - A food pantry that helps low-income residents and at-risk families.
  • Taylor Family Foundation - An organization that helps children with life-threatening and chronic illnesses, developmental disabilities, and at-risk youth.
Nearby Nordstrom has already geared up for the opening by renovating its own tony store, operating since 1984.