Content tagged “Retail”

With renewed brick-and-mortar focus, BR sewing supplier expanding into Texas

Among those who sew, Baton Rouge-based Allbrands.com is one of the best-known purveyors of sewing machines and related equipment, with five stores in Louisiana and an Internet presence that has dominated the market since the early days of the World Wide Web. Now the company is expanding into Texas. Earlier this summer, it acquired an existing sewing machine retailer in Houston—Sew Contempo—for $650,000, and it plans to continue growing in the Lone Star State. "We see tremendous opportunity in Texas," says Allbrands.com's longtime owner John Douthat, who is also eyeing San Antonio for possible expansion. Allbrands.com has been around since the mid-1970s, first as a franchisee of the Stretch and Sew company, then later as an independent retailer of dozens of brands of sewing, quilting, embroidery and fabric-care equipment and appliances. In the 1980s it owned 10 stores in Louisiana and Mississippi. But in the early 1990s, on the advice of Douthat's then-teenage son, the...

A Day in the Life of a Top 100 Private Company

Photographer Don Kadair spent a day each with three of the firms on our list of Top 100 Private Companies to capture the essence of their success.

Watch 'em rise

In 1972, a local restaurant owner named Frank Dedman Sr. made a life-changing decision. Eight years earlier, in 1964, he had opened a drive-in eatery that sold car-side burgers, po-boys and homemade ice cream.

EBR sales tax collections rise more than 5% in May

Sales taxes collected across East Baton Rouge Parish in May were up 5.65% over collections during the same month last year. According to the latest monthly report from the city-parish Finance Department, released today, collections totaled $15.4 million in May, compared to $14.6 million in May 2013. The breakdown of collections inside and outside the city limits of Baton Rouge shows May was a strong month for both the incorporated and unincorporated parts of the parish. Inside the city limits, $8.2 million was collected, up 5.6% from the $7.8 million collected during the month last year. Outside the city limits, $7.2 million was collected, up 5.7% from the $6.8 million collected in May 2013. Five months into the year, collections inside the city limits were at $39.3 million, which is 4.3% higher than year-to-date collections of $37.7 million last year through May. Year-to-date collections in the unincorporated portions of the parish stood at $33.6 million in May, up a scant 0.28%...

NK Boutique opens third location, closes online boutique

Between the opening of NK Boutique's third location and the closing of its online counterpart, evesapple.com, it's been a summer of change for the 30-year-old local business. The upscale women's clothing boutique opened at 17455 Perkins Road, near the Highland Road and Interstate 10 interchange, last month in the space that formerly housed Edit by LBP—another local boutique, which relocated to Acadian Village late last year. "We recognized that there's a market at the Highland and I-10 area that was missing" shopping options, says Michele Percy, who co-owns NK with Sari Turner. "We even get a lot of New Orleans customers that drive in to shop," she says. "We just recognized that it was a great opportunity." Percy says NK closed down the Eve's Apple website to focus all of its energy into the brick-and-mortar stores, but adds that the closure isn't necessarily permanent. "It's...

Rouses closes on land in Long Farm Village for first BR supermarket

Rouses Supermarket has acquired a 4.8-acre parcel at Long Farm Village and will begin construction later this year on a 55,000-square-foot supermarket that will anchor the first retail phase of the development at the intersection of Airline Highway and the future extension of Antioch Road. The deal, which was originally announced last fall, closed June 13 for an undisclosed price. Court documents list the sale price as $10 with other considerations. But other parcels of similar size and profile in the area have sold for between $5 and $10 per square foot, which amounts to between $218,250 and $436,500 per acre. Long Farm Village developer Russell Mosely declines to discuss the sale price, but he says the significance of having the grocery store in his 237-acre traditional neighborhood development cannot be overstated. "If you are going to do a real TND you have to have the retail component, because the whole goal of the TND is to keep people from having to leave," he says. The store...

New retail center planned at Highland Park Marketplace already 50% leased

Highland Park Marketplace—the commercial development planned for the corner of Highland and Old Perkins roads, anchored by Alexander's Highland Market—will soon break ground on its next phase of construction, says George Kurz of Kurz & Hebert. The next phase will encompass a five-suite, 8,000-square-foot retail center. Although the center—which will be located behind the new Investar bank on Highland Road and adjacent to Alexander's—is still in the permit process, Kurz says he has already signed leases for over 50% of the space. "The idea here is that we're not going to go and build a bunch of spec space," he says. "We are building a mix of tenants who are complementary to each other and geared to a similar clientele … We're being smart about this." Kurz says he is waiting for permission from the signed tenants before he releases names. Following completion of the first retail center, the second phase of construction will be the approximately...

Walmart buys Denham Springs land for development of neighborhood market, gas station

Walmart, through its real estate business trust, has purchased a roughly 5.8-acre tract at the corner of La. 16 and Vincent Road in Denham Springs, on which it plans to develop one of its neighborhood market stores, which are smaller than its usual retail stores. Walmart also plans to develop a gas station on the site. The retail giant paid $1,392,000 for the property, which it bought from G & D Storage, a limited liability company owned by Natchez businessmen Vidal David and Gary Guido. Randy Herring with Mike Falgoust & Associates represented the sellers in the deal, which closed Thursday, while Dennis Carlton with Carlton & Associates represented Walmart. Herring says the sellers have approximately 6 acres of adjacent, vacant land for sale, and they hope to sell it for additional retail development. In late January, Walmart paid $3,022,500 for a piece of land at the corner of La. 42 and La. 44 in Prairieville,

Refreshing the market

Southside Produce, the Perkins Road produce market that bills itself as the largest open-air market in Louisiana, is getting a new look.

Hi Nabor headed to Broadmoor shopping center

Just two days after news broke that Hi Nabor will be leaving the newly renamed Drusilla Village Shopping Center, the grocery store's owners signed a lease today to open a new store in the Broadmoor Village Shopping Center on Florida Boulevard. "We are excited to show what we can do, and we have big plans for the future," says Jim Crifasi, whose family has operated the Drusilla store for more than 20 years, in addition to two other Hi Nabor stores in Baton Rouge. "We think it's going to be great for that area." The new Hi Nabor will be located approximately 4 miles from the soon-to-close Drusilla location, in a currently vacant 23,000-square-foot space in the Broadmoor center. Crifasi says the space will be expanded to include an additional 5,000 square feet. "We're hoping to be open by the end of August," he says. As for the approximately 50 employees who currently work at Hi Nabor's...

Purple Cow thrift store and a new building slated for Acadian-Perkins Plaza

Changes are in the works at Acadian-Perkins Plaza, the shopping center on the northeast corner of South Acadian Thruway and Perkins Road. Owner Jon Claitor has signed a lease with Purple Cow, a Christian community outreach center, to open a thrift store in the 12,475-square-foot space that for the past several years has housed the Spirit Halloween store during September and October. Claitor says he has signed a five-year lease with the group, which is associated with several downtown churches, and that it has two five-year options to renew. This will be the second location for Purple Cow, which has operated a store at 6586 Jones Creek Road since 2004. "We think the Southdowns area is a great location for our store," says Sonja Mendes, who works at the Jones Creek store. "There's lots of traffic, people and LSU students." The store plans to open Aug. 1, Mendes says. Claitor, meanwhile, says he is moving forward with plans to develop a new, 8,500-square-foot building at his shopping...

Luxury goods market growth forecast to slow this year

Sales of luxury goods are expected to grow more slowly in 2014 compared with last year as weakness in China, Russia and Europe counters rising global tourist shopping and strong demand in Japan and the United States, according to a study released this morning. Worldwide sales of personal luxury goods are set to rise 4% to 6% this year at constant exchange rates compared with a 6.5% increase in 2013, Bain & Co. says in the study presented with Italian luxury industry association Altagamma. So far this year the market is performing in line with 2013, the study says, with worldwide sales of luxury clothing, watches, perfumes, cosmetics, jewelry and accessories such as belts, ties and shoes up 6% at constant exchange rates. "We are entering a new phase for the sector, call it a new normal," says Claudia d'Arpizio, partner at the consultancy, whose forecasts are closely watched by the industry. "There are unlikely to be more booms like the recent one in China soon, and mature markets can...

Southside Produce to begin renovation, expansion this week

Southside Produce, the Perkins Road produce market that bills itself as the largest open-air market in Louisiana, will undergo a major renovation beginning this week. The family-owned business at 8240 Perkins will be closed on Wednesday, when a temporary, tented structure will be erected in the parking lot. The 6,000-square-foot tent will serve as the interim market beginning Thursday, while the existing market is dismantled, and a new, larger structure is rebuilt in its place. "It will still have the same, open-air feel," says manager David Pizzolato. "But it will have more amenities and a lot more retail and warehouse space." He likens the new steel structure to a firehouse, with permanent walls but also with large, front, garage-style doors that can remain open. The renovation will add about 4,000 square feet of new retail space to the existing 8,000-square-foot market, as well as two warehouses. But the most noticeable change to the market, which originally opened in Denham...

The big chill

April 28 proved to be one of the hottest nights so far this year, as tenants in Perkins Rowe learned the hard way. Their air conditioning system went out at about 7:30 p.m., when construction crews doing underground work on Park Rowe Avenue near Texas de Brazil punctured a line that supplies chilled water to the system.

Towne Center losing two apparel retailers

Two apparel retailers are leaving Towne Center at Cedar Lodge, though their departures from the shopping center are unrelated. Aristocracy Apparel, a men’s store, has already closed its store in the popular shopping center at Jefferson Highway and Corporate Boulevard and is getting ready to reopen in a new location at 497 Third St. downtown—a move that is expected to be announced at Tuesday’s morning DDD meeting. While the shop’s relocation is a big win for downtown—which has not had a new retail store open in decades—a Towne Center spokeswoman says the store was asked to leave the shopping center for failing to pay rent. Aristocracy had been located in Towne Center since 2010. Meanwhile Coldwater Creek, a national chain that began in the 1980s as a catalog business, will soon close its location in Towne Center. The New Jersey-based women’s clothing retailer is in bankruptcy liquidation, and it won court approval earlier this month to begin...

Record Store Day in Baton Rouge

Since 2007, independent record stores across the nation have been celebrating Record Store Day.

Road to connect The Grove, Interstate 10 service road gets green light

Developer Richard Carmouche has secured preliminary approval from the Federal Highway Administration to build a road that will connect his mixed-use development, The Grove, to the Interstate 10 service road that runs between Bluebonnet Boulevard and Siegen Lane. "That is very important, ultimately," says Carmouche. "It's not so important with what we are doing in phase one because we haven't built a lot of product yet, but it will be very important for future retail development." The Grove is located on 118 acres behind the Mall of Louisiana and currently has one completed apartment building consisting of 190 units, with plans for a second building of 160 units, 850 residential units and 775,000 square feet of office and retail space. For now, the only access to the development is via Mall of Louisiana Boulevard. The new road, which is still more than a year from completion, will enable motorists to turn directly off I-10 East at the Mall of Louisiana exit, just past Bluebonnet. They...

Spring fever

After the unusually long, cold winter Capital Region residents endured this year, it's no wonder that the first signs of spring have kick-started a flurry of sales at home garden retailers.

Sally Calongne

The ball was in her court. Baton Rouge native Sally Calongne had returned to her hometown in 2009 after a four-year stint at a Washington, D.C., nonprofit, eager to re-enter the Capital Region tennis scene.

Tennis star Maria Sharapova buys ownership stake in BR native's company

Baton Rouge native and LSU alumnus Holly Emery Thaggard, who in 2007 launched a skincare product line focusing on UV protection called Supergoop!, has announced that tennis superstar Maria Sharapova has invested in the company and is now a co-owner. "As an avid user of Supergoop! daily, for a number of years, I was drawn to not only the quality of the product but also the opportunity to educate people around the world about the importance of practicing safe sun habits every day," says Sharapova in a prepared statement. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Thaggard's brother, Stephen Emery, a Baton Rouge native who now lives in New York, is also a partner in the company. Thaggard says Supergoop!, which is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, has averaged triple-digit growth annually since its foundation. With Sharapova's becoming a key player in the company, Thaggard says the brand plans to further its domestic distribution and expand internationally over the next five...

Competing with the big boys

When Ron Lewis opened the first Maxwell's Market on Corporate Boulevard in 2000, it was one of the few specialty markets/delis around the Capital Region. While there were a handful of high-end supermarkets, they didn't sell pre-packaged meals like Maxwell's nor did they do a sit-down lunch business.

Holding on to tradition

In the early 1980s, white flight from downtown and Mid City to the suburbs accelerated. Royal Furniture owner Mike Tricou saw the trend and recognized the alarming demographic shift in his customer base. But while many retailers moved to the seemingly greener pastures farther east—or at least opened second locations there—Tricou stayed put.

Maxwell's Market to open new store in Lafayette

Maxwell's Market is expanding into the Lafayette market and plans to open what will be its first store outside of Baton Rouge some time this summer. The newest addition to the Maxwell's chain, which will bring its total number of specialty markets/delis to four, will be located on Kaliste Saloom Road near the popular River Ranch TND in a small, mixed-use development of retail and office space. The market will be about 5,000 square feet and will be a new construction. "We weren't really looking at moving into Lafayette but the developers approached us," says Maxwell's Market owner and founder Ron Lewis. "We thought about it a long time and looked at the market and the demographics, and it just really made sense." Lewis, who opened the first Maxwell's Market on Corporate Boulevard 14 years ago this week, has been slowly growing his brand, at a time when the market for high-end grocery stores has become increasingly crowded with national competitors like Whole Foods, Fresh Market and...

Adjacent retail centers on North Acadian sell for $2 million

In two separate land deals totaling $2,050,000, adjacent retail centers at 243 N. Acadian Thruway, which is at the corner of Florida Boulevard, have been sold to a pair of limited liability companies managed and represented by Louis Andolsek Jr., who is president of The Levert Companies in Metairie. The seller of the properties was D & H Investment Properties LLC, represented by B. Clark Heebe. The deals closed Monday. According to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court Tuesday, the retail center nearest to Florida Boulevard sold for $1,075,000 to Levert-St. John LLC, while the adjacent property sold for $975,000 to J.B. Levert Land Company LLC. Each building contains five suites. As Daily Report previously reported, Levert-St. John LLC purchased a 12,240-square-foot office warehouse off Industriplex Boulevard in October, which Andolsek said was a business...

Fred's Super Dollar on Greenwell Springs sells for just over $2M

The Fred's Super Dollar store at 10710 Greenwell Springs Road has been sold for $2,169,362. The buyer, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court late Tuesday, is a Texas limited liability company—Greenwell Springs Freds 199 LLC—whose manager, Marc Seymour, has a Miami business address. The seller was FirstChoice Property & Development, which is based in Humboldt, Tenn. A spokesperson at FirstChoice confirmed the sale to Daily Report this afternoon, but declined further comment. According to the clerk of court filing, the sale includes roughly 2 acres of land on which the store is located. The Greenwell Springs Road store is situated on the corner of Lassen Drive, not far from the intersection of North Sherwood Forest Drive. —Staff report

LSU AgCenter: Crawfish myths persist regarding purging, straight tails

With crawfish season just underway, the LSU AgCenter says many myths about cooking the iconic south Louisiana crustaceans still persist. Ray McClain, LSU AgCenter crawfish researcher at the Rice Research Station near Crowley, says one of the myths involves using salt to clean or purge crawfish before boiling. "Research at the LSU AgCenter has shown that the addition of salt to the wash water provides no significant advantage in cleansing crawfish despite the numerous claims to the contrary," he says. Washing crawfish for as little as 10 minutes in water helps remove mud and debris but does little to eliminate intestinal wastes, he says, and salt appears to be of no benefit. "The only way to significantly reduce size and content of the intestinal tract is with a 12- to 24-hour freshwater purge, which is difficult and impractical for homeowners to do," McClain says. Another widespread myth about crawfish involves those that come out of the pot with a straight tail. Many people won't...

New healthy food service concept coming to Corporate

After a couple of years of planning, Fresh Kitchen—a new food service concept that features healthy meals to go—is planning to open its first location at 7474 Corporate Blvd., across from Towne Center and adjacent to Christian Street Furniture, by early May. The food store will offer more than 30 breakfast, lunch and dinner to-go items for a wide range of dietary lifestyles, from vegan to Paleo, says Ryan McNeil, who co-owns the business with Chef Daniel Dreher. The menu will feature generous selections of poultry, beef, bison, pork and seafood, as well as an impressive salad bar. A partnership with The Big Squeezy—which recently opened near the Perkins Road overpass—is also in the works, and McNeil says Fresh Kitchen hopes to capitalize on other such partnerships within the community. "We are working with a nutritionist to make it more affordable and easier for people to adapt a healthier lifestyle," he says, adding that Fresh Kitchen aims to use local and...

Entrepreneur: Dale and Ernie Matherne

Brothers Dale and Ernie Matherne opened Longview Grocery in 1981, near their hometown of Grand Point, without ever having worked as grocers. As Business Report details in its new Entrepreneur feature on the brothers, Ernie was 24 at the time and had a refinery job at Kaiser Aluminum in Gramercy. Dale, at 41, was a real estate developer; the store is located in one of his developments. On learning of their enterprise, their father predicted, "Y'all are gonna go broke." What actually happened is, they expanded the first store, several times, and added three more—two in Baton Rouge and one in LaPlace. A fifth store, in downtown Baton Rouge, is on the way. "The learning curve was huge," says Ernie. "You learn from your mistakes, and man did we make plenty. Every mistake you make costs you money, so you don't make the same one twice!" Associated Grocers has played a key role in the launch of each Baton Rouge Matherne's store.

The neighborhood store

Thomas Edison once said that the three great essentials to success are hard work, stick-to-itiveness and common sense. Add loyalty, humility, and kindness, and you've a description of how Hi Nabor arrived at celebrating 50 years of business in Baton Rouge.

Dale & Ernie Matherne

"You learn from your mistakes, and man did we make plenty. Every mistake you make costs you money, so you don't make the same one twice!"

Little Caesars and Fit-Blendz coming to Perkins Road retail center

Little Caesars pizza franchise plans to open its 13th Baton Rouge area location on Perkins Road near Bluebonnet Boulevard. Alabama-based Bravo Food Systems, a Little Caesars franchisee that owns locations in Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana, has filed a permit application with the city-parish Department of Public Works for the construction of a roughly 4,700-square-foot retail center at 9065 Perkins Road. Ramon Arias, the owner of Bravo Food Systems, confirms that Little Caesars will be one of the retail center's tenants, but could not provide further details on the development's timeline. Fit-Blendz, a Louisiana-based nutrition café offering smoothies, wraps and sandwiches, will occupy another of the four suites in the retail center, Arias says, but tenants for the other two suites have not yet been signed. The Perkins Road location will be Fit-Blendz’s third Baton Rouge café—the other two are on Airline Highway and Coursey Boulevard—and sixth location in Louisiana.

J.C. Penney sells Firestone building at Cortana for $1.5 million

J.C. Penney has sold an out-parcel building at Cortana Mall that's home to Firestone Complete Auto Care for $1,553,555, a company spokesman confirms. The property, located about 100 yards from the J.C. Penney anchor store in the mall, was purchased by SMBC Leasing and Finance Inc., according to records filed Friday with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court . A company spokesperson says J.C. Penney has owned the building since the early 1980s, but did not elaborate on why it was sold. J.C. Penney announced on Jan. 15 that it plans to close 33 underperforming stores and lay off 2,000 employees—a move the company says will save about $65 million a year beginning in 2014—but none of the locations are in Louisiana. Kenton Girard—director of real estate assets and new store development for Bridgestone Retail Operations LLC—which shares the same address as SMBC...

Upscale consignment shop moving into Perkins Road overpass neighborhood

Retail is returning to 3033 Perkins Road. Swap Boutique is preparing to open its doors Saturday in the 2,300-square-foot space that has been vacant since Stella Boutique closed its doors in the spot about a year ago. Owned by LSU alumni Michelle Reinhardt, the upscale consignment shop boasts four New Orleans locations. Reinhardt begin with a 1,100-square-foot store on Maple Street in 2008 and has rapidly grown the business since. "We're very selective, so shoppers always know that they'll find great quality items that are still in style," she says. The inventory will be comprised of women's clothing, shoes and handbags, she says, by designers such as Tory Burch, Diane von Furstenberg, Rebecca Taylor and Theory. "We have gotten such a warm welcome from everyone in Baton Rouge," Reinhardt says. "It's a great location for us." —Bethany Imhoff

AgCenter Food Incubator director hits paydirt with microwave chicken roaster

Gaye Sandoz's daytime job at the LSU AgCenter is to help participants in the AgCenter Food Incubator bring their good ideas to market. But on Monday night, she took a page from her own book and watched in astonishment as 10,000 of her Clever Kitchen Microwave Barbecue Chicken Roasters were sold on television and online shopping channel QVC in a matter of minutes. "It was so much fun I would have done it even if it didn't make money," Sandoz tells Daily Report. In her case, Sandoz took an existing product that had been discontinued, improved it and demonstrated that you can actually barbecue a chicken in the microwave. "I started working on this about three years ago. I was a single mom, and I wanted to find another way to barbecue a chicken indoors besides the oven because it's so messy," Sandoz explains. But the real added value of her product, she maintains, comes in the recipes accompanying the cooker. Over the years, Sandoz has developed recipes for fudge and candy and...

Children's Gallery closing its doors on Bluebonnet

After almost two years in business at 8645 Bluebonnet Blvd., baby boutique The Children's Gallery is closing its doors at the end of this month. The owners hope to reopen at some point, possibly in a new location. "We want to take the business in a different direction," says owner Christopher Bond, "so we're going to close it down to regroup and eventually reopen it." Bond says he's terminated his lease for the 2,500-square-foot space the store has operated in since March 2012, effective Jan. 31. Charlie Colvin of Beau Box Real Estate, who represents the approximately 6,600-square-foot retail center in which The Children's Gallery is located—alongside Style Salon & Spa and The Bar Method—says a few potential tenants have shown interest in the space being vacated, but he hasn't yet signed a lease agreement. While Bond and business partner Joel Fruge may reopen the boutique, Bond says they are selling off all inventory in the meantime at 30% to 60% off. The business...

Mid City record store plans expansion

Atomic Pop Shop owner Kerry Beary says she's planning an expansion to nearly double the size of her 1,500-square-foot store at 2963 Government St., as well as make repairs to the building's roof and add a parking lot to the Mid City store specializing in vinyl records. "We'll have space for more of everything," says Beary. "We'll have more records, electronics, more vintage items. We're also going to have a parking lot with about 10 to 15 spaces." Beary plans to renovate an existing space located behind her current shop for the expansion. The parking lot will also be built in the rear of the business, which is sandwiched among a stretch of retail shops and office spaces slated for renovations and upgrades under an effort called Model Block. Beary says work will begin soon, with completion on the entire project expected by the spring. Thanks to the resurgence of...

Smart growth in the new year

The year behind us included several huge announcements for developments in Baton Rouge, and all of these projects look to improve the urban core of the city in 2014. We take a look at the stats on some of these projects below:

Frank & Bennie's says goodbye after more than 50 years

After more than 50 years in business at its Perkins Road overpass location, Frank & Bennie's Beauty Salon closed its doors for good on Sunday due to the retirement of Frank Sagnibene Jr., who co-owned and ran the salon with his wife, Bennie. "It was just time," says Frank Sagnibene III, adding that his father will turn 84 later this month. "It's been wonderful for both of them and for the whole family. It's amazing to think you can be in the personal service business in the same location for 52 years." The salon opened in 1962 at 3129 Perkins Road, adjacent to a Capital Bank branch in a building that had originally housed Southside Baptist Church. Over the years, the bank space would see numerous tenants—it currently is home to Street Breads—while Frank & Bennie's continued to serve a loyal clientele from a vintage, mid-century salon that would eventually become a relic from a bygone era. Sagnibene III, whose father has owned the building since 1976, says the family plans...

Wampold buys land in Perkins Rowe from Terry Saban

Nick Saban's wife, Terry, has sold a 1.8-acre tract she owned at Perkins Rowe to developer Mike Wampold, who says the parcel is ideal for a hotel or additional retail development. "This parcel is right up front, between Orvis and The NeuroMedical Center on Park Rowe," Wampold says. "It's the first thing you come to so whatever we put there, the location is triple A." Wampold acquired the parcel for $1.1 million in a deal that closed Thursday. He has been eyeing the site for months and says he was particularly interested in it because it is the last undeveloped parcel in the mixed-use development, with the exception of a tract in the rear that is slated for apartments. While developing a hotel on the site might seem like a no-brainer, Wampold says he has to consider the competition it might bring to his nearby Renaissance hotel across Bluebonnet Boulevard. "I don't want to create competition for myself," he says. "Though that hotel was one reason I was interested in this...

Entrepreneur: Eugene Brown Sr.

Eugene Brown Sr.'s eldest son and namesake calls him "adventurous"—with good reason, as Business Report details in its new Entrepreneur feature. At age 22, the Savannah, Ga.-native moved to Baton Rouge to open a retail clothing store. The newcomer located Fashions Limited downtown in 1973 and did a brisk business. Even so, he closed that shop in the late 1980s and soon after opened another, on Interline Avenue, eschewing the retail model. His aim with Brown & Brown Custom Clothiers reflected the expertise he'd gained—and the passion he'd discovered. Brown & Brown could "provide a more in-depth accommodation for someone who's serious about dressing," he says. "I love the clothing business, and [custom] gives me the opportunity to involve myself at a higher level." With characteristic foresight, the master tailor moved Brown & Brown Custom Clothiers to Government Street in 1996. There, the business has prospered alongside its neighbors in the burgeoning corridor. "I...

Eugene Brown Sr.

His eldest son and namesake calls him "adventurous"—with good reason.

U.S. retail sales rise by largest percentage in five months

U.S. consumers ramped up spending in November on cars, appliances and furniture and made more purchases online, signaling growing confidence in the economy at the start of the holiday shopping season. The Commerce Department reports this morning that retail sales rose 0.7% on the month, the biggest gain in five months. October's figure was also revised higher to 0.6%. The Associated Press reports two straight months of healthy sales suggest steady hiring is encouraging Americans to spend more this holiday season, particularly on big-ticket items. That could give a critical boost to the economic growth. Today's report also "suggests that the holiday shopping season began on a strong note," says Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics. Consumers purchased more at home on their computers last month, and less at traditional stores. Those trends could explain why many retail chains estimated disappointing sales over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, one of the most critical for...

Commercial Properties to develop office, retail component of Americana TND

When Level Homes acquired in late October the 150-acre residential portion of Commercial Properties Realty Trust's traditional neighborhood development in North Carolina, 5401 North, Level owner John Engquist said one of the advantages of the win-win deal was that Commercial Properties could focus on its area of expertise—commercial development—while Level, a home builder, could concentrate on the residential part of the project. Now, the two companies have decided to work together on Americana, Engquist's 414-acre TND in Zachary, which is currently under construction. Engquist tells Daily Report Commercial Properties will develop the more than 500,000 square feet of office and retail space planned in the TND, which fronts La. 64, while his company will focus on building out the first phase of 90 home sites. "Americana has a very sizable commercial component to it, and that is not our strength, so Commercial Properties will be working with me on that," Engquist...

Retailers hope holiday sales rise on lower gas prices

Falling gas prices across the country are shaping up as an unexpected gift for drivers—and for people on their holiday shopping lists. The Associated Press reports that history shows when gas prices drop, consumers become more likely to splurge on dinners out. Impulse buys at the mall seem like less of a stretch. More people buy a gas-station gift card after fueling up. Many retail analysts have forecast a ho-hum sales gain of around 2% this year; others predict an increase of up to 3.9%. But steadily cheaper gas could send holiday sales shooting above 5.4%, analysts say. The U.S. average price of gasoline has tumbled 49 cents from its peak this year to $3.29 a gallon, putting it on track for the lowest average since 2010, according to AAA. The Baton Rouge average is even lower, at $3.10 a gallon to start the week. Because many Americans have had no pay raises, whatever...

Evolution of an idea

Local orthopedist Dr. Craig Greene has the movie-star good looks and the medical credentials. Retailer Ty Hingle has the business acumen and a successful chain of 23 Mattress Direct stores throughout the region. Together, they teamed up with Serta to create Dr. Greene's Sleep System, a custom-designed collection of zoned mattresses with varying degrees of firmness. In less than one year, the product line is exceeding expectations and the partners expect the growth to continue. Here's how the idea became a reality.


Rhorer 'confident' downtown will land full-service grocery store

Although the company behind the forthcoming redevelopment of the Commerce Building downtown confirmed at this morning's DDD meeting that the project will not include a full-service grocery store, Executive Director Davis Rhorer says that the DDD continues to work on landing a grocery store elsewhere downtown and that he's confident it will. Michael Lang of New Orleans-based 5thFloor Co. told the DDD board this morning that negotiations to lease a 6,500-square-foot space on the ground floor to a grocer have not been successful. Rhorer says the ground floor space available for a potential grocery store was simply too small. "The good news, as Michael said this morning, is that the dumpsters are coming in December, and (the developer will) be starting the residential work," Rhorer says. 5thFloor Co. purchased the long-vacant Commerce Building at Laurel and Third streets in August 2012 for $1.3 million. A few months later, they laid out

With Trader Joe's set to open, local groceries not changing approach

As local shoppers anticipate the opening of California-based supermarket Trader Joe's on Thursday, the owners of nearby grocery stores say they are not doing anything differently to prepare for the new competition. "We're constantly preparing for competition," says Mark Calandro, owner of Calandro's Supermarket, which has locations on Government Street and Perkins Road. "It never stops. Trader Joe's is just another store opening." Kristina Bradford, the marketing director for the Whole Foods Market on Corporate Boulevard, echoes that sentiment. "We're doing what we always do," she says. "We always try to have great prices for our guests and offer great deals." Meanwhile, Cliff Boulden, co-owner of Bet-R—which at the Perkins Road Overpass is located closest to Trader Joe's among local grocers (less than a mile away)—says all business owners should always be ready for...

Costco eyes an April opening in B.R.

Demolition of the more than 345,000-square-foot Coca-Cola bottling plant at Airline Highway and Interstate 12 is well underway, as is evident to anyone who has recently driven past the nearly leveled 28-acre site. Crews should have the last of the rubble hauled away sometime in December, says T.D. Farrell Construction project manager Shon Huettl, and Costco is aiming to have its new warehouse store open on the site sometime in April. T.D. Farrell also built the New Orleans Costco, Louisiana's first location, which opened on Sept. 21. Huettl says that in addition to the 150,000-square-foot retail warehouse, the Baton Rouge Costco project includes a Costco gas station, the re-alignment of Dawnadele Ave. and some reworking of the intersection of Airline and Dawnadele. Costco closed on the property on Aug. 29 after the Metro Council approved a TIF in May that will

Howard Kadair

"After more than 50 years in the business, I was ready to write a new chapter in my book. My first hope was for a third-generation family business, but none of my sons had the burning desire to pursue the retail business. After determining that was not an option, I pursued qualified buyers in the industry. However, due to the tenuous economic climate, potential buyers were not confident enough to expand out of their marketplaces. Looking forward to retirement, I hope to travel, boat, play tennis, do photography, exercise, and volunteer. I'd love to give back to the Baton Rouge community, which has given me and my family so much over the years."

A tale of two developments

After more than nine years of planning and preparation, the Acadian Village shopping center on Perkins Road is complete, bringing to the area a mix of new high-end tenants that are paying among the highest lease rates in the city.

Second phase of Siegen shopping center to break ground by end of year

The second phase of Siegen Place Shopping Center—which will bring the retail outlet at 6555 Siegen Lane to nearly 30,000 total square feet—will begin construction by the end of the year, says Charlie Colvin of Beau Box Commercial Real Estate. At 17,000 square feet, the second phase will be slightly larger than the first, with the potential to house as many as 10 tenants in suites that range from 1,600 square feet to 3,000 square feet. "We're in the final stages of negotiating with a couple of tenants," Colvin says, "but the leases haven't been signed yet." Colvin says he expects the shopping center to be ready for tenants by around July of next year.

'Real Estate Weekly': Shopping center flanking Cortana on the block

Florline Commons, the 202,200-square-foot strip shopping center on the ring road around Cortana Mall, with several big-box stores, is up for sale to the highest bidder, Real Estate Weekly reports. According to a listing from Cushman & Wakefield, which is marketing the 28-acre property at Airline Highway and Florida Boulevard, bids are due Friday, and the asking price is market value. The property is owned by Mall Properties Inc. of New Albany, Ohio, which owned Cortana Mall until earlier this year. Developed between 1985 and 2002, Florline Commons is now 89% leased, according to listing information; tenants include Bed Bath and Beyond, Big Lots, Guitar Center, Office Depot, Old Navy and Shoe Carnival, among others. The shopping center is debt free and had an operating income last year of $1.4 million. Local real estate experts say those numbers suggest the center could fetch between $15 million and $20 million. —Stephanie Riegel Get more local real...

Petco first retailer open at Acadian Village

The new shopping center at Acadian Village is officially open for business. Petco, the first retail tenant in the 76,600-square-foot center on Perkins Road at South Acadian Thruway, celebrated its grand opening over the weekend. "It was wild," says assistant manager Melissa Bates. "A lot of customers were just passing by and noticed the balloons and signs so they stopped in. We were very pleased with the response." Bates estimates the store averaged more than 300 transactions each day on Saturday and Sunday. A typical sales volume at a high-performing store in the Petco chain is between 240 and 250, she says. Anchor tenant Trader Joe's is scheduled to open Oct. 31, and La Divina Café, a New Orleans-based gelateria, has announced a Nov. 8 opening. The rest of the tenants are scheduled to open by the end of the year, except Pier One, which will open in spring 2014, says Tina Rance, a spokesman for Commercial Properties Realty Trust, which developed the center. In anticipation of the...

Edit by LBP to relocate to Acadian Village in two weeks

The locally owned Edit by LBP, an upscale women's clothing boutique, will move from its current space at 17455 Perkins Road near the I-10 Highland Road exit later this month. On Oct. 28 Edit will open the doors to its new location at Acadian Village behind Galatoire's Bistro and next to Trader Joe's. Edit opened as Angelique Boutique in 2005 and changed its name to Edit by LBP when owner Lauren Bailey Pollard bought out her business partner for full ownership in 2012. Edit is eager to reposition itself in a central location convenient to a wide range of clientele, says Pollard in a press release. "I am excited for all the opportunities this convenient new location has to offer our established clients and I am excited about the possibility for new clients," says Pollard, an LSU graduate. Edit will host an open house event from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2, during which it will feature an...

Kadair's to close in early November

Kadair's, the city's oldest camera and electronics retailer, will be closing its doors for good in early November. In a letter to longtime customers dated Tuesday, Kadair's assistant manager Steve Ducote says the reason for the closure is the pending retirement of the store's owner, Howard Kadair. "The core of our team has been working together for a long time," says Ducote, himself a 27-year veteran of the company. "I am proud to have been associated with a group of individuals who have the finest work ethic and extend the best customer service in the industry." Ducote referred a call seeking comment to Kadair, who did not respond to the request for comment in time for today Daily Report PM. Kadair's opened in 1946, and from the 1960s until the 1980s operated several camera and film-processing stores locally, including three on Florida Boulevard and its current Essen Lane location. It closed the last of those Florida stores in 2009. Locally owned camera and film-processing...

Furniture store to open on Perkins in coming weeks

Patti Dupree Furniture and Interiors is set to open by the first of November at 17455 Perkins Road near the intersection of Highland Road and I-10, says owner Patti Dupree. The 9,000-square-foot space had been home to Cyrus Persian Rugs until it recently merged with The Rug Store at 6060 Bluebonnet Blvd.—which is owned by Haji Bonakchi, Dupree's business partner. The namesake store that's set to open is a first for Dupree, who has been in the design business for more than 30 years. "We will be doing draperies, lighting, furniture and design services," she says. Dupree says she chose the location because of the area's growth potential. "To me, that's the growing area." —Rachel Alexander

The Juban Crossing saga

Juban Crossing, as described by developer Stephen Keller in 2006, might have been unthinkable pre-Katrina.

Wal-Mart getting into smartphone trade-in business

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is launching a smartphone trade-in program later this month that will help consumers trade up to the newest phones available. The world's biggest retailer announced this morning that consumers will receive a credit from $50 to $300 when they trade in their working, undamaged phone. The credit can be used toward the purchase of a new phone, with a selection of more than 100 devices to choose from. This includes some smartphones with prepaid plans. Wal-Mart says that consumers can receive $300 credit for an Apple iPhone 5, $175 for a Samsung Galaxy SIII and $52 for a Samsung Galaxy S2. Phones can be traded in at the electronics departments of more than 3,600 participating Walmart stores and Sam's Club locations in the U.S. Consumers will need to enter a two-year contract for the new phone with AT&T, Verizon Wireless or Sprint. Steve Bratspies, executive vice president of general merchandise for Wal-Mart U.S., said in a statement that trade-in programs are becoming...

Arts, antique shop to open in Citiplace in October

Baton Rouge Gold and Silver owners Thad and Juliet Ackel plan to open a second business in Citiplace in the coming weeks. Vignette, an arts and antique shop, will open its doors in a 5,600-square-foot space across from Jason's Deli sometime in October, says Thad Ackel. Vignette will operate as a separate entity from the precious metals business the Ackels opened about two years ago in the same development on Corporate Boulevard. The arts and antiques shop hopes to lease interior space to as many as 20 local vendors carrying "higher-end art, antiques, and interiors," Ackel says. Some of the space has already been leased. "We're doing our best to get as many local artists as we can in the space," he says. In particular, Vignette will spotlight young artists by coordinating with art programs at some Capital Region universities. Ackel hopes to invite chosen students to display their artwork for free—a rare opportunity for budding artists. Ackel is also working on exclusivity with...

Lion's Gate Center closing to make room for Brooklynn's Boutique expansion

After four years in business, home décor store Lion's Gate Centre on Lobdell Avenue is closing its doors for good at the end of this month so its owners can focus on their more prosperous store located next door: Brooklynn's Boutique. "It's good news and bad news," says Anne Ogea, co-owner of both establishments. "We are closing one store so we can expand another." Lion's Gate Centre sells a variety of home décor items, including furniture, lamps and fixtures, as well as jewelry and gifts. The roughly 1,000-square-foot space at 1575 Lobdell Ave. that was home to Lion's Gate will be closed on Sept. 30, and renovations to expand Brooklyn's Boutique there will begin immediately. Ogea says she hopes to have the expansion—which will double the size of the boutique to 2,000 square feet—completed by early 2014. Lion's Gate is hosting a liquidation sale through the end of the month, with all items currently 25% off, in hopes of moving inventory to make way for the expanded...

New NFL handbag regulations have some local businesses booming

The new NFL handbag regulations may be an inconvenience for fashion-conscious football fans, but they have created a niche market for local apparel retailers who say they've seen an increase in sales recently—particularly in the run up to this past weekend's LSU game in Dallas' AT&T Stadium. Within a few hours last week, Pearson's Travel World had sold out its entire stock of regulation-size clutch purses. "Everybody scrambled in at the last minute," says Ned Pearson, owner of Pearson's Travel World. "It blew my mind." Pearson's has already ordered a new shipment of the bags, which are 4-inch by 6-inch laser-cut clutch purses priced at $52 and will be available all season. To comply with the NFL policy, bags must either be clear and no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches, or small clutches that are no larger than 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches. Other local retailers also hope to take advantage of the...

Local cigar merchant catching on

While cigar industry sales nationwide have slowed since an industry boom of the late 1990s, small independent retailers have been able to carve out a niche market, according to industry reports. Roberto and Arturo Molino are hoping to capitalize on that trend. The Covington-based father-and-son team earlier this year opened their second Louisiana location of Habana Port Cigar Merchants on Perkins Road. “This is an affluent population and there isn’t a lot of competition,” says Arturo Molina, who runs the local store in Southdowns. “We have high hopes for this market.” Roberto Molina—who made critically acclaimed artisanal cheeses in the 1980s and early 1990s at his Chicory Farms in Washington Parish—founded Habana Port three years ago, opening the first store in Covington. It did so well, the younger Molina moved into the Baton Rouge market in March. So far, he has relied mostly on social media to advertise and promote the store, which...

EBR sales tax collections shrink in June

Retail and vehicle sales taxes collections in East Baton Rouge Parish declined nearly 3% decline in during June. As a result, year-to-date totals are down, compared to the first six months of last year. According to the latest monthly report from the city-parish finance department, June collections were down both inside and outside the Baton Rouge city limits. Inside Baton Rouge, collections totaled $7.7 million (approximately $7.2 million in sales tax and $500,000 from vehicle sales) and were down slightly less than 1% compared to last July. Outside the city limits, collections were slightly less than $7 million in June ($6.4 million from retail sales and $600,000 from vehicles), which was down nearly 5% from a year ago. When combined, the $14.7 million collected inside and outside the city limits from retail and vehicle sales in June represented a 2.7% decrease from the $15.1 million collected in June 2012. That follows a combined 3.2% decline in May. Year-to-date, total...

Tepid U.S. retail sales raising doubts about economy

Bleaker outlooks at major U.S. retailers like Walmart and Macy's are raising doubts that consumers will spend enough in coming months to lift the still-subpar economy. Though the economy is growing steadily, Americans are being hampered by weak pay, higher taxes and tepid hiring. Sluggish overseas economies are also slowing sales for U.S. retailers. It's a picture the Federal Reserve will weigh in on, deciding whether to scale back its bond purchases as soon as next month. "Consumers aren't going to start spending with abandon until we see much stronger job and wage growth," Mark Vitner, an economist at Wells Fargo, tells The Associated Press. Average weekly paychecks have grown just 1.3% since the recession ended more than four years ago. Over the past 12 months, pay has trailed even low inflation. That's partly why spending has remained lackluster and why many Americans may be postponing purchases at department stores so they can buy cars, homes and other costly necessities.

Life is good franchise at Towne Center closes

Life may have been good, but business was not for the owner of the local Life is good franchise store at Towne Center at Cedar Lodge. The so-called genuine "neighborhood shoppe," known as Geaux Jake, closed early this summer after operating for several years from a space on the Jefferson Highway side of the shopping center. The store's former owner could not be reached for comment, but Towne Center developer and owner Steve Keller—whose Creekstone Companies has been criticized by some struggling tenants for failing to provide adequate marketing and support to retailers—says the New England-based chain was not a good fit for Towne Center. "Life is good is a Northeastern concept," says Keller of the 20-year-old, Boston-based chain. "I don't care if it's in Perkins Rowe or Mall of Louisiana or anywhere else. That store would never have made it in Baton Rouge." Like the other 80 or so franchise outlets around the country, the local Life is good store sold T-shirts and...

'Real Estate Weekly': Walmart spurs developers to ready neighboring site on Burbank

As construction continues at the new Walmart Supercenter at Burbank Drive and Bluebonnet Boulevard, work crews are also busy readying a 12-acre parcel across from it on Burbank in hopes of attracting buyers to a shovel-ready site in a rapidly growing area. "We are filling in the front pads—putting in retention ponds, moving dirt from the back of the site to the front," says Jerry Pearson, who, with partner Bing Bishop, acquired the property in 2006. "We sat on it for a long time. Now, with Walmart beginning their store and the RaceTrac [coming] next door, we think the time is right for this property. It's a great corner." Earlier this year, Pearson and Bing sold 1.8 acres of what was originally their 16-acre tract to RaceTrac for a new prototype gas station, deli and convenience store. Construction on that store is expected to begin any day. The partners also sold approximately 2 acres to Goodwill for the new store built there. That left them with a 12-acre site, the front of...

Costco on hold

Though it has been more than two months since the Metro Council approved the creation of a TIF district benefiting the planned Costco warehouse club on the site of the former Coca-Cola bottling plant on Airline Highway, the company has yet to close on the property.

Olinde's the latest to take Perkins Road storefront in new direction

Retail or restaurant? Which is the best use for the many small storefronts that line Perkins Road from the overpass to College Drive? Over the past 18 months, there has been a lot of turnover—not only in tenants, but in the type of tenants. Among the many examples: Magpie Café, formerly The Parlor tattoo parlor; Street Breads, formerly Loft 3H boutique; and LD Linens and Décor, formerly Bushwood BBQ in the Southdowns Shopping Center. The latest example is Olinde's Southdowns Mattress Superstore, which opened Thursday at 4201 Perkins Road in the 4,200-square-foot space previously occupied by Marcello's Wine Market. Andrew Olinde, whose family owns the local mattress store chain, says the Southdowns location made sense for the company because of the heavy traffic count along Perkins Road and the high demand for Southdowns homes. "Southdowns is constantly transforming, and there are lots of young families who live around here because of the good schools," he says. "So it's an...

New retail developments planned around Alexander's Highland Market

Three new retail developments with a collective 72,000 square feet of space are planned to go up around the Alexander's Highland Market development off Highland Road, says George Kurz of Kurz & Hebert Commercial Real Estate, who is working on all three deals. "We're getting ready to kick off and really move forward with development in that area of Baton Rouge," says Kurz. "We have many letters of intent in place." As Daily Report previously reported, Investar Bank closed on a Highland Road parcel in front of Alexander's last week, on which it plans to build a new branch. Adjacent to that parcel is another that closed last week, Kurz says, on which an 8,000-square-foot retail center is planned. "Then there's another tract that should be closing the week after next. That's where a 14,000-square-foot building will go up," he says. "And at the same time we're getting ready to...