Thursday, April 30, 2015

Congratulations Bass Pro Shops/City of Memphis

When I posted the last Tanger Outlet Mall update not too long ago, I had no idea the new Bass Pro Shops 535,000 sq. ft. mega store in downtown Memphis was just days away from opening: time to eat crow already! In honor of Bass Pro opening the chain's second largest "destination location" in the former Pyramid arena, here's a shot of the commemorative gift card seen at the Hernando Kroger over the weekend. While the main structure is a large steel-clad pyramid, the 6th largest in the world, Bass Pro built a front entrance very similar to what is seen on this gift card:

Commemorative Bass Pro Memphis grand opening gift card
The city of Memphis and Bass Pro spent millions and millions of dollars on this project (reports say over $190 million), with the city reportedly investing 35 million alone just to retrofit the building for earthquake resistance. In the words of a Memphis Flyer article: "Bass Pro took over the construction at the site in October (2013 presumably) after the city completed interior demolition, the removal of the seating, seismic protections and the replacement of the heating and cooling systems." Source: That was likely a very large portion of the costs, but the further renovations done by Bass Pro couldn't have been light on the budget either. Those include the world's largest freestanding elevator, surrounded by a pit featuring live alligators(!), a bowling alley, hotel, and restaurants. No wonder they missed the December opening by a few months, and were still putting on the finishing touches even after the doors opened at the end of April 2015. As I understand it, the city owns the building and Bass Pro signed a 55-year lease. One news report claimed Bass Pro owes the city a whopping 35k monthly rent check!

Bass Pro occupies another location in east Memphis, in a former small Wal-Mart, which I have gotten a few pictures of in the past and posted to flickr. here's a link to one of them: It's unclear if they will keep that location open, and may depend on how much business the new downtown location draws away from it. When I made the comments at that flickr photo, many people were still skeptical about Bass Pro ever getting the decade long Pyramid project completed. Now Memphis has a major tourist attraction and unique retail gem right at it's front door in downtown. At some point, I will definitely go check it out, sometime after the crowds die down a bit! Googling "Bass Pro Memphis" currently turns up several images: And lastly, here's a cool shot of the old interior seating in the midst of being demolished:

Friday, April 24, 2015

Kroger Millennium Décor

So here I go with the décor posts I promised! Starting it off is millennium décor, since it's the one I am most familiar with (it is in my local store after all - but won't be for much longer.) Sadly, it's no longer in many other area Kroger locations as well, replaced along the way with script or, most recently, 2012 décor (both of which will be featured in upcoming décor posts). This décor style is named as such because it arose at the turn of the millennium. This - and this series of - post(s) will mainly be pictorial looks at each décor style, with photographs* by fellow flickr user kingskip1, fellow blogger l_dawg2000, and myself. Let's begin!


Stores built with millennium décor typically look like this one, with a central gable and a predominantly blue color scheme on the awnings' paneling.

As one walks in a millennium store, the first thing he or she likely sees is the produce area, dubbed "Garden Market." All department signs of millennium décor are basically boxed-in rectangles, flanked by the baseline green strip, vertical columns, and striped banner on either side above, which changes into a solid color for the sign itself, and featuring artists' renditions of typical products of the department with the department name itself and typically, although not in this case, a smaller banner with some descriptive details attempting to tempt shoppers.

Of course, nothing's ever that simple! Not all millennium stores were built as such, so just as millennium stores have been remodeled into later and greater décor packages, so too were older models remodeled with millennium. This one is the biggest anomaly I have seen - the angled ceiling makes it really hard for the Garden Market signage to connect cohesively with the rest of the décor! As such, the green trim surrounds the sign completely here. You can also see in this particular photo the tri-flagged banners that adorn wall spaces throughout the store (not pictured here, but previously, are the triangles which constitute the rest of the millennium wall train), as well as the flat upper striped banner - something I've seen in some cases, usually remodels, whereas most millennium-built stores seem to have the three-dimensional version.

From there, one would encounter the bakery and deli. A more typical form of bakery sign - excuse me, "Bread and Pastry" sign - is seen here, but below is one lacking the enticing "Piping Hot and Fresh" banner.

After that comes the deli, and it appears we've lost another part of the rectangle! This store has most elements of a regular Kroger Deli sign - "Quality Service" banner included - but instead of the solid-colored banner attaching the sign to the striped one, it seems rather detached with the disconcerting empty white space. A regular deli sign is pictured below...

...or is it? No, it's not that it's missing the banner again - this "Kroger Deli" sign has adopted the more formal moniker of "Delicatessen." I'm not entirely sure which came first, but evidently both have been used.

Next comes Meat & Seafood or, as you'll see below, Choice Meats plus Seafood. Size restrictions, and not mutual disagreements, separate the departments from store to store.

Other décor features include the café, meals to go (which I don't think always gets designated signage), and floral.

Additionally, millennium décor carries elements throughout what would be considered regular areas of the store, such as health and beauty and kitchen supplies.

Moving on throughout the central, well, store part of the store, one can continue to see examples of millennium décor. Less prominent signs designate smaller departments, and of course aisle signs let shoppers know what to find, where.


And... how dare I forget dairy! I doubt you read this post as I put it up... but still :)

Along the leftmost wall in millennium-built stores is the Frozen Foods department. Remodeled stores likely didn't get this signage, as frozen foods were/are in the center. Too bad, because it's my favorite of the millennium signs!


Back along the front lie the pharmacy, checkouts, [in some cases] Little Clinic, and bank/money services area.

The above store even has a video rental/1 hour photo area! Nice feature there. However, my favorite feature of millennium stores has to be - and yes, I saved the best for last ;) - when Kroger adds "local flair" to the décor, as seen below from my local store.

Well that wraps up millennium décor! More photos, of course, can be found on flickr... and more décor posts are coming to the blog soon. For now, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell


* - I don't have the patience to credit or link to all these photos individually... turns out Blogger hates me more than a single-digit number of photos in a post. Rest assured, though, that they are all taken from flickr - with permission, of course! - and you should be able to find them there by clicking the links for the contributors at the top of today's article.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Southaven Tanger Outlet Mall update

What started out as a few pieces of steel three weeks prior, in late March 2015, has now grown into a large building on the south end of the Tanger Outlet property in Southaven. I wanted to get a pic of the steel skeleton before it gets covered, which I expect will start happening very soon. I did a tiny bit of research as well, as I was curious about the site plans for the mall. Alas, I didn't find any such plans, but admittedly didn't take the time to browse through all the numerous articles that have now appeared online. I hadn't realized the magnitude of this thing, 300,000 + sq. ft. when completed! At any rate, here's the same view of the Tanger site as the pic I posted in late March:

I wasn't going to make anymore comments myself, but while researching this subject, I was reminded the official name *was* going to be "Tanger Outlets Memphis", but the official website (just a page at this point) now seems to indicate differently! I surely hope I'm right. This inaccurate name would of been a slap in the face of sorts to both the residents of Southaven and Memphis.

Southaven residents will still have to put up with a lot of Memphis traffic heading southward and invading the area, but now at least the mall will be named for us, if the official online page is any indication that is ( Hooray for small victories! As for it being a slap in the face for Memphians: when asked where the new big outlet mall named "Tanger Outlets Memphis" is located, they would of had to embarrassingly admit it's not actually in Memphis, where the areas directly north and east in the city of Memphis itself are nearly a virtual retail wasteland these days.

So again, unless I'm reading things wrong, dropping the name "Memphis" from this outlet mall project is a win-win situation, and another chance for us in Southaven to rub Memphis' face in it, LoL! When Bass Pro opens one of it's biggest new destination locations in downtown Memphis in the next few weeks, and Ikea opens out in Cordova in the future, I guess I'll have to eat crow then! Hopefully these developments will help spur some revitalization in those particular areas of Memphis, which by the way are NOT retail wastelands, but are somewhat marred by bad perceptions nonetheless. Well, there was Peabody Place Mall in downtown Memphis, but we won't go there... That was a big part of the problem I reckon, literally almost nobody went there!

One more thing: I don't do Twitter myself, but tweeter "hayley shaver" ( says it best: "Southaven totally needs more traffic so let's add an outlet mall". I agree, Hayley, pour it on! Hayely hails from Olive Branch by the way, so kindly go tweet about something else Hayley, and let us long time Southaven residents do all the complaining, LoL!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Is This the REIT Path for Sears?

Today's post highlights Shelby County, TN, retail. And Lowndes County, MS. And a lot of other places around the US - perhaps what's coming soon to a Sears or Kmart store near you.
Look who's back! Toldja the posts might be infrequent. On that note, I think I'm scrapping the "other notable Krogers list" idea. Not to worry though, the décor posts are still in the works and I'll begin working on the first one as soon as possible. As stated, there will be eight of those, featuring mostly pictures... so that's something to look forward to (particularly after today's more text-based post)!

In the meantime, while you hold onto hope for those posts to come out soon, Sears Holdings is holding onto hope for survival - and barely, at that. This week the company created Seritage Growth Properties, a real estate investment trust (REIT), in an attempt to raise some money. 254 Sears and Kmart stores, as well as other third party companies either leasing land from or entirely separate from Sears Holdings, are all a part of the REIT. Sears is hoping this is "the key to unlocking the value inside the stock" - after all, "virtually the only thing of value remaining in the company is its land and buildings." The problem is, now Sears will have to depend on is "ability to continue as a retail operation...[which is] in terrible shape."

The full list of stores in the REIT, per flickr member catnapped1972, can be found here by scrolling to page 75 or hitting "Businesses and Properties" in the table of contents. My flickr friend Random Retail is quite familiar with the REIT because his local store in Olean, NY, is now a part of the trust. He also kindly elaborates for us uninitiated what the REIT entails for its properties:

Type 1: Sears Holdings can be kicked out for other uses.

Type 2: Sears Holdings remains in half of the building if a business would like to share the building as well as any auto centers detached or attached and pad sites. (Some exceptions may apply)

Type 3: Sears Holdings no longer operates at all [meaning they've closed already and the property is vacant but they still own it].

Type 4: Leases which the REIT leases land it is on, and does not own the land on which the property is located.

Here in the Mid-South, two major stores are now a part of Seritage Growth. The Sears Holdings property in Memphis, TN - which I deduce is at Laurelwood because On the Border is listed as a part of the REIT as well - is a Type 1 property, meaning Sears's days at there may well be numbered soon. The other Sears Holdings property is listed as being in Cordova, TN. As far as I can tell, and as odd as it may seem, this is the Sears at Wolfchase Galleria. I thought for sure this would be the former Super Kmart, but there's no mistaking Raleigh for Cordova. Either way, this listing is a Type 2 property, which might spell disaster for the auto center outparcel, or perhaps consolidation into one floor for the two-story anchor.

The Sears store at Wolfchase Galleria, courtesy of l_dawg2000. Another flickr member has pictures of the Laurelwood Sears, but since they're not currently active and I don't have their permission, I won't post those photos; I will, however, link to them - just click and scroll to the right in the album.
Those are the only two listings for Tennessee. Arkansas has a couple of listings, but they're not in the Mid-South, so I won't cover them. The lone Mississippi listing is itself barely part of the Mid-South, but since the NWS includes Lowndes County in its map, I suppose I'll include it in this post: Columbus, MS's, Kmart store is a Type 2 property. Also included in this particular property are quite a few adjoining businesses, including Enterprise, Smart Phone Clinic, Beautiful Nails, and Bokays (which means Sears Holdings owns quite a big portion of land in Columbus).

What does this mean for those stores? No one really knows (or, well, at least I don't). Sears is hoping to make some more money in the long run I'm sure, but in the process a lot of these stores are probably more susceptible to shutting down now... which doesn't bode well for Sears or Kmart stores. They're trying to keep things less publicized though - they're now quietly shuttering stores once their leases run out rather than releasing a giant list of store closures. Of course, this only makes for more uneasiness in shoppers and especially employees...

That's what's happening in the Mid-South and with Sears Holdings nationwide... in the meantime, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell