Tuesday, June 20, 2017

South Lake Centre, Revisited (Southaven, MS)

Today's post highlights DeSoto County, MS, retail.

I was planning to do this post sometime this summer no matter what, since it has long been a goal of mine to get better, more comprehensive photos of South Lake Centre - and as you'll see, I've held myself to that. To post it today is particularly appropriate, however, since my original post on this shopping center (from November 2015) is one of my favorites thus far, and this post revisiting SLC marks the milestone 50th post here on the Mid-South Retail Blog!

Screenshot courtesy
For background on the center, please check out my earlier post, linked in the first paragraph. I'll mention some of the history as this post goes on, but I want to let the pictures be more of the focus this time around. Before we dive into the photos, though, I did want to include the latest site plan for the center, since we looked at several conceptual site plans last time around. As you can see from this most recent update (on May 4th, 2017), there is only one vacancy in the entire center: a testament to its prime location and customer traffic!

Indeed, located at the southeast corner of Goodman Road and Interstate 55, South Lake Centre was more or less Southaven's first major retail mecca of the 21st century. Two additional regional draws have followed - Southaven Towne Center and Tanger Outlets Southaven, both directly south of this shopping center along Airways Boulevard - but SLC has held its own, and is at least one of the major triggers that has spurred continued commercial development all along the Goodman Road corridor. Above, you're looking at its road sign, located at its central entrance off of Goodman. (Note the City of Southaven emblem at the top center!) Its most used entrance, however, is more likely the signalized one behind me from this vantage point, at Southcrest Parkway.

We'll begin our extensive photographic tour over at the left end of the center (or easternmost, for those of you who prefer directional markers). Many of the pictures in this post come from the same dates, but a few here and there are simply from random visits. The first photo above is one of those random photos (and one of the older photos in this post as well), taken on January 29th, 2016. It represents how South Lake Centre looked when we last viewed it here on the blog. As you can see from the second photo, taken March 10th of this year from the same vantage point, there are indeed some changes in store!

A couple of panoramic-style views now, in which I tried to include all or at least most of the shopping center's main line of major tenants. Given how large the center is, it was very difficult to get that entire strip in one photo, and the sun glare competing against me didn't help matters, either! The bottom photo leaves out five of the stores in the main drag, but is probably the best of the three.

Our first evidence of that aforementioned change since 2015 is located immediately at the left end of the center. SLC's Hancock Fabrics closed with the rest of the chain during its 2016 bankruptcy. (I have a flickr album covering that that you may visit here.) Luckily, the space didn't sit vacant for long: it was quickly snapped up by Books-a-Million, who has added their latest signage on the outside and their latest layout inside. What makes this conversion particularly interesting is that BAM formerly had been located due south of here in Southaven Towne Center, literally just minutes away, for a decade prior to moving here. SLC's visibility, (presumably) lower rent, better management, and strip-mall-like exposure all combined to draw Books-a-Million in. Their end result in this building turned out very nice, and only lost the Joe Muggs café in the process: no additional square footage or employees were spared. (I have another flickr album covering BAM's relocation that you may visit here, as well as an earlier blog post on the now-former store here.)

Given its extremely small storefront (and interior, for that matter), it can be easy to overlook Sally Beauty Supply, so I wanted to give it some well-deserved attention here with this dedicated photo. At the time this shot was taken (August 2016), the next-door Hancock Fabrics was still vacant. Books-a-Million would move in in February 2017.

Gap Factory Store is next down the line, occupying an 8,000 square foot space that at one point had a nearly identical twin further down in the center. In 2008, this space was home to Fashion Bug, but I'm not sure if they were an original tenant to the center or not. It is likely that this store opened as a replacement for the Gap Outlet in Tunica (a center which I hope to feature on the blog one day!), circa early 2010s if my memory serves me (I wouldn't 100% rely on that, though, haha!). With Tanger's opening at Airways and Church in 2015, Southaven has since had two Gaps, as that complex also is home to a Gap Factory Store.

A look from the store beside Gap further down along the center's storefronts (this is indeed listed as Storefront Road on Google Maps!) from December 2015 shows that identical twin store I mentioned way off in the distance - the one with the blank façade. More on it as we get closer, but first...

...onto Marshalls, Gap's next-door neighbor. I would argue that Marshalls is one of the center's main anchors, behind the now-former Sports Authority and Office Depot (who actually owns their building in the center). But then again, several of the other stores could just as easily be considered equally high-profile, including Old Navy and Shoe Carnival, for example. That strong tenant mix is part of what keeps this center so healthy.

Beside Marshalls is Rainbow, housed in the space that has very likely seen the most turnaround of all of the stores in SLC's main strip. Once a Hallmark Gold Crown, this store was also a fairly short-lived Dots which operated beginning in 2011 when that chain assumed new ownership. Rainbow was here by 2015. There's an ever-so-slight labelscar behind its logo on the exterior. And that's probably the most unsightly thing in this entire center, which really speaks volumes about the upkeep here!

Shoe Carnival is next up as we continue to move right (westward). The first photo above looks back to the left so you can see all the stores we've covered so far. Besides the tenants, the architecture is another major reason I love South Lake Centre. It's very photogenic! Even the little details are extremely detailed and worth noting; see the little white squares with (what appear to be) suns in them. The overall architecture seems somewhat geometrical as well, but I'll save discussion of that for later in the post. As for Shoe Carnival, besides replacing their logo several years ago, their storefront remains unaltered. However...

...the same cannot be said about its neighbor, Old Navy. A major interior remodel to the store within the past decade brought along with it those new blue and green panels to the exterior to cover what once were grayish-colored panes behind a blue logo; said blue logo also exchanged its letters for white ones at that time. The general architecture remains, yes, but from the get-go this was Old Navy's architecture anyway - taking design cues from, but not strictly organic to, the rest of the center - so nowadays this is one of the most store-specific designs in all of SLC. Still, it doesn't look bad or too out of place by any means, thankfully.

I included this photo to show that not all of the main strip of stores actually connects to one another! Instead, there is this gap between Old Navy and its neighbor (which we'll get to momentarily). It's gated off from access from the shopper sidewalk side of the center, but I believe anyone can walk down the short alley from behind the stores... not that that would really serve any purpose. Your guess is as good as mine as to why it's here at all: elevation-related, perhaps?

So, speaking of the store beside Old Navy: here it is! As you can see, it's another of the stores that has experienced change since my earlier blog post on SLC. Back then, it had just closed as Dressbarn, which moved to Tanger Outlets down the road. Very soon after, Tuesday Morning put up some banners on the otherwise blank façade announcing their intention to take over the space, opening in September 2016. (Once again, I have a flickr album covering its relocation that you may visit here.)

This store was, I believe, one of the first to receive the chain's new logo, so that's a plus! Unfortunately, from certain angles, Dressbarn labelscars are visible above either bay of windows on the storefront, but like I said, faint labelscars are the largest detraction in the center, which is not bad at all. This store is also the one that I mentioned earlier as a twin to the Gap Factory Store down by Marshalls; you can still easily see the similarities on the exterior here, but this store is now larger, having expanded out the back from 8,000 to 11,200 square feet in advance of Tuesday Morning's move-in.

Sometimes, inside Tuesday Morning at the checkout line, you can hear pets making noise: that would be coming from the Petco store next door! I want to say that Petco is another store here that built with its own architecture, but I can't confirm that. I can confirm that the store has not replaced its logo despite having debuted a new font for it in 2011. They seem committed to this one, actually (at least at this particular location, anyway), given that the faded letters you see in the middle photo have since been replaced, as you can see in the other two pictures, which were taken at later dates.

Out to the parking lot for some overview pictures before moving on. Up top, just Tuesday Morning and Petco; and then just below that, looking from those two stores over toward the left of the center, where we began this post. At the very bottom, the third photo looks from Petco to the right at the remaining two stores, which, as you can see, are bigger and higher in elevation than the rest of the main drag of stores.

Sports Authority is up first, since it is Petco's immediate neighbor. Unfortunately, it closed with the rest of the chain last year. Above are a few pictures taken during the liquidation that didn't make it over to my flickr photostream. (The rest that I took may be seen - you guessed it! - in this album.)

These other four Sports Authority pics were all taken post-closure. A few random carts like the one pictured above wandered around SLC's sidewalks for a little while, although I haven't seen any recently. Additionally, the Sports Authority sign remained on the exterior until a month or two ago, at which point it was removed as construction began for the building's next tenant. I didn't want to feature many photos of that here, but one can be found later in the post, along with details on the tenant. For now, though, we're moving on...


Finally, we've made it to the right end of the center! Anchoring this side, directly next to the Walmart Supercenter across Southcrest Boulevard, is Office Depot. As mentioned earlier, this store owns its space in the center, whereas I believe all others are leased. That, and the fact that it is larger, influenced the decision for Horn Lake's OfficeMax to move across the Goodman Road/I-55 overpass and consolidate into this store as a result of the merger between the two chains. (Feel free to visit my flickr album on the former OfficeMax here, and my album on this Office Depot here.)

Looking across SLC's major stretch of stores from right to left this time, as seen from Southcrest Parkway. The lighting isn't the best, and that tree on the left didn't help the visibility, but I think I managed to fit all of the stores in this shot!

And back into the parking lot now for one last look at Office Depot before moving on (yes, there is more to see!). Office Depot very clearly built according to its own architecture, and unlike the other stores that did the same, it looks like the chain made practically zero attempt to incorporate some minor elements of South Lake Centre's otherwise-overarching architecture. Oh well. I'm at least glad to see its mirrored-front façade remain, rather than one of the lackluster cover-ups that Office Depot has been known to administer to stores of this era in an attempt to modernize them. Especially on beautiful days like the day I took this photo, the mirrored façade looks great!

My previous post on South Lake Centre pretty much stopped there, with the focus only on that major stretch of stores just covered. For this post, I wanted to be sure and feature all of the center, including the three other complexes out in the parking lot (that can be seen in the site plan at the top of this post) which house various smaller shops...

...so we're starting at the rightmost (westernmost) one, closest to Office Depot, and will proceed to work our way left (east). Since these complexes are home to many smaller shops, they are the portions of the shopping center that see the most regular tenant turnover. In this complex alone, Five Guys once was a Mexican restaurant, and Dollar Tree expanded circa 2009 into space vacated by Family Christian when they relocated to another bay in the complex immediately next door.

Speaking of that complex next door, here's a shot from it looking over at the complex we just saw. Dollar Tree, GameStop, and U.S. Nails are all fairly long-running tenants, having been here since at least 2008, the earliest year that I have a site plan for (though according to the site plan I'm referencing - featured in my previous post on SLC - GameStop was EB Games at the time).

Outback Steakhouse is certainly the major draw of the middle complex of the three, and indeed is considered South Lake Centre's main restaurant, given its prominence on road-facing signage. The other tenants it shares its complex with are Supercuts, Arch 2 Arch Salon, and...

...Family Christian, which as you can see here went out of business alongside its chain earlier this year and now sits vacant. As noted before, Family Christian used to be located beside Dollar Tree in the complex behind me from this vantage point, relocating over here in 2009 to take over space formerly occupied by S & K Menswear. It is also the lone unspoken-for vacancy in the center as of this posting. I'm sure it will be occupied again sooner rather than later!

I tend to give closed stores a bit more attention, hence the additional photos of Family Christian (including one peeking inside its front windows) above. I would have posted them to flickr instead, but decided simply to keep them in this blog post just because. :)

Returning our focus to the main strip of stores before continuing onward to the last complex of smaller shops. Here we're looking out from the former Family Christian's parking lot over at the right end of the center, from the alley beside Old Navy over to Office Depot. Here you can glimpse the construction taking place at the former Sports Authority. There's been no official announcement yet, but per site plans and real estate listings, it looks very likely that Burlington will be relocating here from their store on Stateline Road, one exit to the north along I-55 in Southaven. They'll also be downsizing in the process, which is more in line with how they're operating their stores these days. Sadly, also in line with how they operate is the unfortunate removal of the awning and vestibule from the building (seen closer in my Sports Authority pictures further up in this post), traits which were left behind by its original tenant, Waccamaw HomePlace. (I already have a flickr album set up for future coverage of the Burlington relocation, which you may visit here.)

Several more looks at the main strip of stores, this time from Old Navy and to the left (with the exception of the bottom shot, which looks right instead). I told you that I was very determined to photograph all aspects of this shopping center this time around! The first photo was taken on March 10th of this year, while the remaining four were all taken on May 31st. Photos from those two dates in 2017 comprise the bulk (but not entirety) of this post, with the sunnier ones coming from the latter date.

Our final place to explore is the leftmost complex of smaller shops, located along the eastern edge of South Lake Centre right against Airways Boulevard. Compared to the other two we've already looked at, this one also features a sit-down restaurant (although perhaps not as high-profile of one), and features more prominent architecture so as to highlight its three junior anchors.

Up first is The Avenue, a staple of the center since at least 2008, if not earlier. (Sadly, I don't have information on who original tenants of SLC are/were.) Beside it are Ashley Stewart (also here since at least 2008), We Get It Covered (vacant in both 2008 and 2009, but present here by 2015: a short-lived relocation of the main drag's Hallmark store in-between), and Avail Vapor (formerly Oreck as recently as 2015).

Catherine's is the next junior anchor of this particular complex of shops, located smack in the middle. It, too, has been here since 2008, if not years earlier as well. American Family Dentistry's signage is awkwardly placed on Catherine's façade since its space is so small it literally has no façade of its own! In 2008, its space was occupied by an outfit called Beneficial Finance, but it was vacant in 2009. American Family Dentistry has been here since at least 2015, if not earlier.

The other stores on Catherine's left (besides American Family Dentistry, that is) are RadioShack (likely original to the center), Robert Irwin Jewelers (also likely original, if I had to guess), and Akita Sushi & Hibachi Grill (occupying space that formerly housed another likely-original tenant, Hunan Restaurant, prior to 2015).

Mattress Firm is the final store we'll be looking at in this tour (that we haven't seen already, that is). I'm glad I got that first photo of the store's original signage still intact on March 10th, since as you can see from the bottom photo taken just yesterday (June 19th, 2017), it has finally been replaced (and only within the week before this post, at that)! In the months between these two pictures, the Sealy logos were removed from the signage, since Mattress Firm and Sealy no longer have a business relationship (had to research that one!). That's likely what spurred the replacement of the entire sign (as well as the other two signs on the side and back of the store), although I have to say, as far as visibility goes, I prefer the old one. (Strangely enough, Mattress Firm also has another, newer location literally 1,000 feet away from this store. I'm surprised this one didn't outright close upon the construction of the new store: I choose to interpret that as another testament to South Lake Centre!)

A final overview of this final complex, with a comparison view below it. In that bottom photo, taken in December 2015, you can see Oreck still in business (or its sign still up, anyway!). Not visible in these pictures but still worth mentioning further is RadioShack: like many others nationwide, South Lake Centre's RadioShack location liquidated earlier this year as a result of the chain's second bankruptcy, but remains in business today as a Sprint store. Co-branded RadioShack/Sprint signage remains up... for now.

Some last looks at the left end of the center now, as we prepare to wrap up. Here is perhaps the best example of the uniqueness of South Lake Centre's architecture, what with the Marshalls and Books-a-Million façades: the rectangular cut-out (for lack of a better word) in the center of each building's uppermost façade is identical, yet the shapes of the façades themselves are different; BAM's is rounded, like a circle, whereas Marshalls' is more triangular. Hence why I used the word "geometric" to describe some of the architecture here earlier in the post. And of course, there's the vertical supporting columns, horizontal ladder-like bars above the entrances, and multiple other neat elements repeated throughout. I don't know how to describe any of this very well, but I sure know how to appreciate it!

And finally, ending the post with a look at the store at which we began - Books-a-Million (note the employee turned away from the camera; I believe I had been spotted roaming around the parking lot taking photos by this point!) - and a view down the sidewalk into the sunset. I hope this post does a better job than my first one at fully documenting South Lake Centre, and that you both enjoyed it and can understand why I really like this place and see it as one of Southaven's most important retail draws!

As always, until next time, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell