Circle Centre anchor struggles

February 21, 2008
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Carson Pirie ScottThe parent company of Circle Centre Mall anchor Carson Pirie Scott has joined a growing list of retailers struggling to stay afloat after disappointing fourth-quarter sales. About half the racks in the store are on sale for 75 percent off, good news for customers but bad news for a retailer. The store is part of York, Pa.-based Bon-Ton Stores Inc., which operates 280 stores in 23 states. The company has less than $24 million in cash on its books and about $1.4 billion in debt, and Moody's just downgraded the company's credit rating. Its shares are down 84 percent in a year, to $6.56. Carson's took over the space about a year ago from Parisian. How big of a blow would it be if Carson's had to close?


Sharper ImageAnother struggling retailer is Sharper Image. The chain plans to close 90 of its 185 stores nationwide after declaring bankruptcy this week. The San Francisco-based home electronics retailer has stores at the Fashion Mall at Keystone and in Fort Wayne. A spokesman said no decision has been made on which stores will close.

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  • This is depressing. For i admire both stores greatly! Let's hope they can stay.
  • I really hope it doesn't close - it would be a big blow to the mall
  • yes it would be especially since i doubt they could get Blomingdales or Neiman Marcus in there since neither went in at the Fashion Mall instead Nordstroms went in
  • I've been gobbling up the good deals there. Get 'em while they last.
  • If it did close I doubt the mall would wait long to remodel the building and divide it up into smaller stores........the mid-range department store is dieing it seems
  • Are CPS's problems reflecting national retail trends (i.e. the US is probably in a recession), retail problems in metro Indy, problems at Circle Centre (or downtown Indy in general) or a specific problem with CPS itself?

    Whatever the cause, the fact that the store located in what is arguably THE prime retail location in downtown Indy is having problems is pretty troubling.
  • Whatever the cause, the fact that the store located in what is arguably THE prime retail location in downtown Indy is having problems is pretty troubling.

    If you put a retailer there that people actually want to go to (ie Crate & Barrel or Target) then there would be no issue.
  • Carson did an effective job of dumbing down an outstanding retailer (Parisian) just like what May Company did to L S Ayres. That's what corporate greed does to America, over and over again.
  • A Target in the mall would be fabulous! I like Carson's - I did alot of X-mas shopping there on my lunch. I hope they can make it work, but if they were already struggling before the downturn... I don't know.

    Does anyone know why the Victoria's Secret at Circle Centre seemed to abruptly close up? There is a sign out front that says they're relocating to the 4th floor next to GameWorks. Does anyone else think that's odd? I can't imagine that would increase their sales. They had a prime spot. Now it will be teen boys ogling the displays on their way to play games.
  • Firewoman -

    VS moving is only temporary while they remodel to their latest prototype.
  • berwickguy was exactly right when he said:

    Carson did an effective job of dumbing down an outstanding retailer (Parisian) just like what May Company did to L S Ayres. That’s what corporate greed does to America, over and over again.

    Both Bon-Ton Stores and Macy's have acquired some quality stores and then reduced them to the lowest common denominator. I've visited Macy's stores in several cities in the past couple of years and, in each case, what used to be nice places to shop with quality merchandise have been transformed into ordinary stores with mediocre to substandard goods. I think the Carson's situation is comparable. No wonder people don't shop there. I certainly don't.
  • When I visited Carsons a few months ago, I was rather disappointed with the selection and appearance. It did not appear to me that they did much of anything when they took over the Parisian location except for changing the name on the outside. I would think that while another high-end retailer would not likely do well in the location, a (Super) Target would be great! Hopefully they won't ruin the old Ayres location by dividing it into smaller retailers.
  • The problem is not the site, but the retailer. They took on alot of debt when they bought the stores, and now that is coming back and haunting them. Over expanded too fast, and what berwickguy said too.
    Funny how there was just a recent article listing them as one of the innovative places to shop.
  • I'm with Miles on this I shop downtown most times at lunch. But I can NEVER find any thing at Carsons Pirie Scott. Ether there out of what I want or they don't have the size. And the selection is POOR to start with. IN ALMOST AVERY THING I WANT. I have never had one problem at Nordstrom’s. They go out of there way to find what I want and the always have my size.

    IT JUST POOR SELECTION AND APPEARANCE that’s killing Carsons downtown. IT'S ALMOST LIKE AT TJMAXX there.
  • Well...Closed in malls I think they can RIP...
  • Sharper Image failed to keep up w/ the times. They began as a source for
    cutting edge techno gadgets and became nothing more than a tacky
    Brookstone.

    I was told by a Carson's sales associate that every inch of storage is packed
    with unsold Winter merchandise ordered by buyers who've never visited the
    store. Hence the current mega clearance. This space deserves a much stronger,
    more engaged anchor that could hold their own against Nordstrom. Perhaps
    Lord & Taylor or Bloomies but I doubt either would give this location the time
    of day...
  • I'm not worried about circle center at all. The tourism industry is too large downtown for the mall to be in serious trouble. In fact I wouldn't mind at all if Carson's closed. It's a pretty crappy department store, and it would be great if Simon could attract something more recognizable.
  • Tyler,

    We should all be worried about Circle Center. The fact some major tenants are skating on thin ice (CPS, Finish Line, Gameworks, UA), there really isn't much of a variety of shops given the size of the mall, and much of the fourth floor has sat unoccupied for several years now.

    As for tourism, there is a lot of convention business, but Indianapolis isn't and probably never will be a tourist destination. When I travel to seminars or for work, the last thing I want to do is trudge around a mall to see how similar it is to the one back home.
  • Circle Centre = Eastgage in about 7 years.
  • Nancy, your comment is so absurd that I am left to think you are either purposefully trying to be facetious or you drank heavily before posting your remark.

    Downtown Indianapolis is a major business, convention, and tourist center for the whole metro area--the area around Eastgate is NOT (and NEVER has been). Also, Eastgate suffered from changing demographic which left the surrounding neighborhood a very economically depressed area--in contrast, downtown Indianapolis is generally affluent and vibrant.

    Circle Centre will NEVER suffer the fate of Eastgate. In 7 years, the national and local economy will have long recovered from its current slump and the mall will be BETTER off than it is now.
  • ^^^It looks like you're the one who's been drinking the kool-aid...
  • Nancy, it's sad that you want to joke about the Jonestown massacre in Guyana which left over 900 people dead--yes, that's really funny, Dear!

    In any event, the only thing I have been drinking in lately is reality--you might want to try a sip sometime.

    Also, you might attempt to back up your statements with facts or at least get used to being criticized when you post an absurd comment without any support for your opinion.
  • Chris, I mean Nancy, I mean what ever other alter ego you have on here...I am a realist, when a mall has over 50% of its business coming from out of towners, its doom to fail...
  • Fail like the Simon mall at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas or Mall of America?

    Nancy, I think you are the one confused about urban malls and what keeps them going. Urban malls fail when they rely entirely on locals...as Eastgate did. When they serve out-of-towners, they thrive.
  • In the event CPS closes, the best idea for this space is a Super Target. Since traditional retail/malls are in trouble with this economy and Simon's headquarters are a stones throw away - here is their chance to think outside of the box. However, Super Targets have grocery stores. If this could be size managed correctly and made to appear like a hip urban version of Target with with a city/urban grocer (think O'Malia's) with existing underground parking - this could be a home run for Circle Center. Eventually, SoDO (south of Downtown) will be built after Lucas Oil Stadium opens. And the number of growing urbanites in this location want a Target at this location. Circle Center is the retail flagship in central Indiana. Here is Simon's opportunity. But - will they listen...?
  • You people are joking about the viability of CircleCentre, correct? The mall hasn't been this occupied in a while and it has never been below 90% in its history. Even when including the failed 4th floor (which should be converted to apartments, BTW). Carson's (it's parent Bon Ton), if you would check,is suffering nationally. I went to the downtown store on Saturday and bought $270 worth of clothes for $60! Yes, I miss Parisians, but I was getting name brand clothes at TJ Maxx prices on Saturday and I must say, I look damn good today :-) .

    I see that Nancy and Johnny have found there way from the StarBoards. Please keep the negativity there. We like our oasis here, thank you. Bring something constructive to the table, or don't take a seat!
  • I like Carson's and wish they had more locations. If you notice they still have a lot of parisian brand merchandise to get rid so that's another reason why they were having deep discounts. Buyers often purchase things too far ahead and so Parisian's old merchandise was still coming in long after the sale of the chain. It would be nice if they would remodel the bathrooms and replace the furniture in the women's lounge.
  • CoryW,

    Something constructive does not, as you apparently think, mean something unquestionably positive. Indy simply is not a tourism destination, and there's nothing wrong with that.

    What is your source for your claim that occupancy has never been below 90%? Let me give you a little hint: SPG reports occupancy rates in their 10Ks. Circle Centre is one of SPG's most vacant malls in an urban setting. It's most recent occupancy was 87%; Lafayette Square fared only slightly worse at 82%. Contrast this with the 99% occupancy rates of the Fashion Mall, Castleton and Greenwood Park.

    I'm saying that CC is doomed, but there is plenty to be concerned about.
  • What's your source for your claim that Indy simply is not a tourism destination?
  • Nancy, I almost forgot about this thread, but I am glad I checked back because I got a good chuckle from your crazy post.

    Let me walk you through this slowly: YOUR name is Nancy, as your screen name shows and my name is Chris, as my screen name shows. And yet, somehow you think you are my alter ego? Wow, either you really need mental health treatment, or else you need to work on your sense of humor because it is really far more bizarre than funny.

    In any event, to respond to the one coherent comment you made: If Circle Centre is doomed to fail because it supposedly relies mostly on tourists for business, then why has it had for almost its entire 13 year history higher sales per square foot than the national average for malls? Does the failure part come in year 15 or 20?

    You certainly have a right to your opinion, but as I posted before if you cannot back up what you say, then you can expect others to disagree with you.

    Finally, I will respond to Johnny: The vacancy rate in Circle Centre is almost entirely confined to the 4th floor, which has never been a success. The first three floors are almost entirely occupied. In 2005, Circle Centre had sales of $422 per square foot compared to the national average of $366. The occupancy rate, which is now 88.1% (as of Simon's latest 10K) is certainly not the lowest of the malls in Simon's portfolio--various other malls had lower occupancy--AND it needs to be balanced against the sales per square foot the mall generates.

    Admittedly, the high-end Fashion Mall does much better, but Circle Centre does quite well and brings in a good amount of revenue. I am not quite sure what all the gloom and doom is about.
  • Thank you Chris. I got my info from Simon, and they no longer count the 4th floor as retail space, thus keeping their occupancy above 90%.

    I would venture to say that Johnny hasn't stepped foot in CC in years...probably because he doens't feel safe there. Circle Centre is THE model for downtown urban malls and how they succeed. Do a google on it and you will find numerous stories on Indy's uber successful downtown mall.
  • CoryW,

    Personal attacks aside, I am in CC nearly every day that I'm in the city, and I've been keenly interested in the project since the Hudnut administration.

    Why on Earth did you say probably because he doens't (sic) feel safe there?

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