Content tagged “Retail”

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...

Linen store to take over former Bushwood BBQ space

LD Linens and Decor will triple the amount of space it currently has in the Southdowns Village Shopping Center when it moves from its existing location in the strip mall into a 3,600-square-foot space formerly occupied by Bushwood BBQ. Landlord Donnie Jarreau says LD Linens will make the move—two doors down from its current spot in the shopping center—within the next 60 days. Bushwood BBQ closed its doors earlier this year; it had only been in business since 2011. Jarreau previously noted the location, which is along the main strip of the center, is challenging for restaurants and that it is better suited for retail. Meanwhile, Jarreau says he expects to make an announcement in about a month or so about a new restaurant opening at the former Romacelli Bistro location in the center. "Romacelli's still has the lease and they're working to sub-tenant in there soon," he says. "They're close to having something finalized, and I expect we'll be able to announce it in the next...

Shopping around

Landing a store that wears a marquis label is a big deal in the retail world. That's why Mall of Louisiana manager Todd Denton is savoring the recent announcement that women's apparel designer Michael Kors will open his first Baton Rouge-area store in the center early next year.

In the right place

"Location, location, location" is commonly touted as one of the keys to building a successful retail business. But what makes a location desirable? Conversely, what makes it stink? Because the elements of a location can bless or curse a business, Business Report asked local owners to identify those features that can give a retailer a competitive edge.

Sales tax collections fall 3.2% in May across EBR

A slump in sales tax collections in May across East Baton Rouge Parish has put year-to-date figures behind 2012 collections once again. Total collections inside the city limits, including those on vehicle sales, were roughly $7.8 million in May. That was an increase of 2.4% over the $7.6 million collected last year during the month. Nonetheless, a 9% decrease in collections outside the city limits during the month left the combined city-parish take of just over $14.6 million down 3.2% compared to the $15.1 million brought in during May 2012. Outside the Baton Rouge city limits, May collections totaled $6.8 million, down from $7.5 million during the month a year ago. In three of the five monthly reports issued by the city-parish Finance Department so far this year, collections have been down compared to 2012. After April's report—which showed combined city-parish collections up nearly 3% over 2012—the year-to-date figures were 0.27% ahead of last year's totals. However,...

Imelda's closing at end of July

Imelda's Fine Shoes, a fixture for more than two decades on the Baton Rouge retail scene, is permanently closing at the end of the month. Owner Sally Banta, who first opened the store 21 years ago and has been in her current location at 7865 Jefferson Highway since 2002, made the decision to shut down because she is newly married, she has relocated to Austin, Texas, and the store's lease is up at the end of the month. "I don't want to have to sign a new, five-year lease and commute," says Banta, who closed her other Imelda's locations in Metairie and Lafayette last year. "I've been managing the store from a distance all year, but it's just not the same and I don't want to do it anymore." Banta says she tried to sell the business, but did not get any serious offers so has been liquidating the inventory. "I have loved doing it and had fun," says Banta. The store's last business day is July 27. —Stephanie Riegel

Neighboring Mid City businesses close; one for good

Although the Mid City area has become home to a string of eclectic art, music and clothing shops in recent years, the area still raises challenges for small business owners. It is short on public parking and foot traffic, while obtaining permits necessary to open can take a very long time. "This area is going to be a challenge," says Greg Vernice, co-owner of Studio C, a home furnishing studio, design shop and general store that opened about two months ago at 3786 Government St.—after nine months of working out permit and parking issues. Next door to Studio C, a Mid City mainstay is closing its doors after four years. Gallery Bohemia owner Kellye Bond says in a statement that she is moving to Puerto Rico rather than renewing the lease at her gallery, but she was not available to further discuss the closure today. Vernice calls the closing of his neighbor "unfortunate," but says he remains optimistic about Mid City's potential. "I'm optimistic, and I wouldn't have made this...

Louisiana should modernize sales tax structure, report says

A great many states, including Louisiana, have antiquated sales tax structures that are hindering their ability to strengthen their economies, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The center's report says states can take four steps to modernize and improve their sales taxes: 1) broaden the tax base to include more services; 2) enact an "Amazon law" to require large online retailers to collect sales taxes; 3) extend the sales tax to Internet downloads; and 4) close an online hotel tax loophole. In Louisiana, Internet downloads are already subject to sales tax, the report says, but the other three steps could be taken here. "Most state sales taxes are ill-suited to raising adequate revenue in a 21st century economy because states have not kept pace with trends such as the growth of the service sector and of e-commerce," the report says. "To keep revenue steady as a share of income, states have raised sales tax rates repeatedly. The median state...

Tanger expansion to be completed with Polo Ralph Lauren opening

All of the final touches of the $8 million expansion and renovation of Tanger Outlets in Gonzales should be complete by the time Polo Ralph Lauren opens in August, says general manager John Taylor. "The beginning of August is all we know at this time. We still don't have a definitive date," says Taylor of the store's exact opening. The rest of the additional stores included in the 50,000-square-foot addition opened earlier this spring, with just an approximately 12,000-square-foot space for Polo Ralph Lauren remaining under construction. Demolition of the former Liz Claiborne store to make room for additional parking is also wrapping up. "Other than that, there's just some landscaping and other beautification work that's still going on," Taylor says. "We're hoping to have all of that done by the end of July." The expansion not only brought new stores such as J. Crew, Talbots, Under Armour, Brooks Brothers, American Eagle and Loft to the outlet mall, but also resulted in new and...

GetGifts closes in Towne Center; owner eyes new venture

Carl Kennedy says the new handcrafted arts and crafts store he plans to open will be an entirely different venture from his previous business, GetGifts, which closed on Saturday. GetGifts had been in business for 11 years, and was most recently located in Towne Center next to Relax The Back and Don Juan Cigar Company. Kennedy's new store will be called Baton Rouge Arts & Crafts Gallery and will open in the original GetGifts location in the 11000 block of North Harrell's Ferry Road. The new shop will feature paintings, jewelry, sculptures and more on creative consignment from experienced and emerging area artists, Kennedy says. His aim is to get up to 60 artists and craftspeople committed to the business before opening in October. Rather than the mass-produced crafts that GetGifts was selling, Kennedy says the new store will focus on one-of-a-kind items. "When I closed [GetGifts], one of the problems was that everybody carried the same things I was carrying," he says. "It was very...

Spice it up

A few years ago, Anne Milneck did what few married mothers of young children make time for—she pursued a lifelong dream. Cooking had been her personal passion, but it had been eclipsed by a career in marketing and by taking care of kids then in first and third grades. That passion resurfaced one day when Anne's husband Greg asked her what she most wanted to do. She answered without hesitation.

Hubig's Pies in Marigny takes big step toward comeback

A 7-0 vote by New Orleans' City Council brings one of the city's favorite confections closer to a comeback. Today's vote approved a permit for Hubig's Pies to establish a bakery in the city's Marigny neighborhood, just blocks from where a fire last July gutted the building that had housed Hubig's since 1921. The fire meant the disappearance of the small paper-wrapped pies that were sold throughout the city, often in checkout aisles at grocery stores, pharmacies, coffee shops and other retailers. The permit was granted for a site currently owned by the city's arts high school. Although the vote was unanimous, there was some opposition from neighbors who said they love Hubig's pies but worry about potential traffic and drainage problems at the planned bakery.

Walmart Super Center to break ground this month

Walmart will break ground later this month on a long-planned Walmart Super Center on Bluebonnet Boulevard and Burbank Drive. A company spokeswoman tells Daily Report that Clark Construction Inc. of McComb, Miss., has been awarded the contract to build the 150,000-square-foot structure, which is scheduled to open in summer 2014. Construction for the project was previously estimated at around $7 million, with a total project cost of more than $11 million. Spokeswoman Erica Jones could not confirm those estimates today. The Walmart Super Center—which is the latest of several key retail and residential projects in the burgeoning south Baton Rouge area—was first announced in 2008 but tabled for several years because of the recession. Earlier this year, Walmart put the project out to bid, though sources tell Daily Report that it was later re-bid because the initial estimates came in too high. Clark Construction has considerable experience building Walmart outlets.

Fabulous finds

A trove of shops, boutiques and art galleries, Denham Springs was one of many Louisiana cities whose downtown revitalization efforts were spearheaded by locally owned and operated businesses, says Jay Tusa with the Louisiana Office of Tourism. With its Main Street Commission's registry listing more than 40 businesses, the three-block Denham Springs Antique District is home to a plethora of gems. Enjoy a leisurely browse inside the Rusty Rooster, Serendipity in the Village (above), and the Korner Shoppe, among many others, along atmospheric Range Avenue.
denhamspringsmainstreet.com

Coming off record year, Lee Michaels eyes further expansion

On the heels of a historic year for sales, Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry is looking at opportunities to add more stores, says market president Scott Berg. "We're looking at a couple of different places at this time," Berg says. "I wouldn't say [where] because it's preliminary, nothing nailed down." But, he says, any expansion would be regional, and the company has been eyeing opportunities in Texas, in particular. Berg says fiscal year 2012, which closed March 31, was the best on record for the Baton Rouge-based, family-owned jewelry empire. "Our business was up double digits over our best year, so we've been extremely fortunate," he says, declining to reveal specific numbers. "That's all eight stores, not just Baton Rouge." Berg attributes much of the growth to a strategy of "reinvesting in our existing community" over the last seven years. That strategy has meant building a new freestanding store in Shreveport, adding a second location in San Antonio, opening a new store in Metairie's...

Editor: Costco just the latest beneficiary of B.R. 'corporate welfare'

The most pressing problem facing our great state, says Business Report Executive Editor JR Ball in his latest column, is "preserving every penny of tax credits, tax exemptions, tax loopholes and direct cash subsidies as well as every other corporate welfare program required to keep every business in this state from fleeing to Texas or Florida—the cost to Louisiana's bloated and unbalanced books be damned." The most recent case of this "corporate welfare," he says, is the Metro Council's approval of a $7.8 million tax incentive deal for Costco so it will locate a warehouse store at the intersection of Airline Highway and Interstate 12. The warehouse retailer will "soon ring up an estimated $150 million to $200 million in annual area sales," thanks to the Metro Council, Ball says. "The move into retail is new for Baton Rouge, which historically reserves its largesse for the hotel industry. Ever since tax increment financing made the rebirth of the downtown Capitol House...

In Costco we trust

The three great issues of our time in the Capital Region are these: 1) protecting our turf in the global economy by using any government means necessary to score jaw-dropping wins in the retail and hotel sectors; 2) whether the luring of big-box behemoth Costco secures Baton Rouge a much-coveted seat at the exclusive table of world-class cities (out of our way, Venice!); and 3) the future of City Park— more specifically, its par-32 golf course.

Hot and spicy

A camera captured the proud moment two decades ago: Then-Commissioner of Agriculture Bob Odom and a handful of executives from Louisiana's most prominent food manufacturing firms joined forces to launch the “Certified Cajun” logo in hopes of collectively distinguishing authentic Louisiana products on grocery store shelves.

The cost of Costco

In an effort to lure Costco to town, East Baton Rouge Parish has green-lighted what will be the parish's first economic development district for a retailer, triggering protests from critics who futilely proclaimed, “Retail is not economic development.”

Costco said to help B.R. become 'world-class city'

A planned Costco Wholesale store in Baton Rouge took a step toward fruition on Wednesday when the Metro Council approved a roughly $7.8 million incentive package for the retailer, a move supporters say is critical to making Baton Rouge a world-class city. "I don't know that you can have a world-class city, in my mind right now, without a Costco," says Patrick Mulhearn, director of studio operations at Raleigh Studios Baton Rouge at Celtic Media Centre. "And I know this because the California people and the people that come in from all over the country, they always ask me, 'Where's your Costco?' Well, we don't have one." The members-only warehouse retailer plans to build a 150,000-square-foot warehouse at the intersection of Airline Highway and Interstate 12 on the site of a former Coca-Cola bottling plant. The project had been on hold as Costco pushed for the incentive deal to help with road and infrastructure improvements at the site. William Daniel, chief administrative officer for...

B.R. Costco deal slightly larger than what wholesaler got in N.O.

The incentive deal that the Metro Council is considering approving for a proposed Costco Wholesale store in Baton Rouge is about $1 million larger than the roughly $6 million deal the store got from the New Orleans City Council last year. "It's very similar," says William Daniel, Mayor Kip Holden's chief administrative officer. "I think they had a location that had [fewer] challenges than we have, so New Orleans may not have had to do as much in infrastructure improvements." Like the $7 million deal the Baton Rouge council is considering, New Orleans officials approved a deal for Costco that rebated local sales taxes and provided for infrastructure improvements. Costco had requested as much as $9 million in incentives in New Orleans. If the deal is approved Wednesday by the Metro Council, the city-parish will provide a $7 million sales tax rebate, $5.5 million of which would go toward infrastructure and road improvements in the area. The other $1.5 million would go toward the $4.5...

Restaurateurs, retailers eye legislation to improve access to capital

Louisiana restaurateurs and retailers who have been holding off on a renovation could soon get some encouraging news. A measure is winding its way through Congress that would permanently extend the 15-year recovery period for qualified improvements on restaurant and retail properties. Proponents, including local restaurant owner Jim Urdiales, say the extension would spur construction. "If you guarantee a 15-year schedule over 30 years, we'll see some restaurants who were putting this off from last year go ahead and do it now," says Urdiales, who owns Mestizo Restaurant. The 15-year depreciation schedule would otherwise expire at the end of this year, giving some restaurant owners heartburn about moving forward with needed renovations. The National Restaurant Association estimates that restaurants undergo renovations every six to eight years just to stay current and combat the effects of daily high traffic. Sen. Robert Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, filed the measure last month.

Gambino's moving into Panache Plaza

Gambino's Bakery is moving into Panache Plaza. The world-renown baker of king cakes plans to move its Essen Lane location into the fledgling retail center at 8342 Perkins Road, between Essen and Bluebonnet Boulevard, by the end of the summer, says Gambino's manager Paul Scelfo. He says the new 2,100-square-foot space will be "more suitable to our customers' wishes, as well as our needs." That means a bigger retail area and a smaller kitchen. "The location we're in now is equipped for a lot more than what we do," he says. The New Orleans-based bakery has been in the Essen Lane location for almost three years, Scelfo says. —April Castro

Studio head rooting for Costco deal to close

Costco is interested in the former site of a Coca-Cola bottling facility off Airline Highway, and East Baton Rouge Parish officials are pushing for a tax incremental financing district to help close the deal. Patrick Mulhearn, who directs studio operations for Raleigh Studios Baton Rouge at the nearby Celtic Media Centre, is among those hoping the deal goes through. He says Celtic already is leasing a building on the site, and Celtic tenant Pixomondo is moving in. "We have gone ahead and renovated it, with the understanding that we're going to be able to acquire it," Mulhearn says. The problem is that Celtic only is interested in about six or seven acres of land, but Coca-Cola wants to sell the approximately 26-acre tract all at once. If Costco buys the land, Mulhearn says, then Celtic could buy what it wants from Costco. Celtic may build a mill shop on the new property, where sets could be constructed and decorated. Universal Pictures has booked space at Raleigh for a possible...

After more than five decades, Bible and Book Center closing

The Bible and Book Center at 4242 Government St. will close its doors for good on Saturday after 54 years in business. Competition from online retailers and big-box stores, which carry many of the Christian book series that have been a main staple of the shop's merchandise mix, have taken a toll, and the family-owned business can no longer compete, says owner Janet Dearman. "When we bought the business, there weren't any chain bookstores in town," says Dearman, whose parents, Jim and Billie Sykora, bought the store from its original owners in 1980. "Once Sam's and Walmart came into the market, things started to change." Online retailers exacerbated the problem, then Hurricane Gustav in 2008 forced the shop to remain closed for a week. "That was sort of the nail in the coffin," says Dearman. "We never really recovered from that." The Bible and Book Center is the last independently owned, non-denominational Christian bookstore in Baton Rouge, according to Dearman, though there are two...

Local business owners closely watching Internet sales tax bill

The fate of the Marketplace Fairness Act—a federal bill requiring online retailers to collect and remit sales taxes just as brick-and-mortar stores do—is being closely watched by Baton Rouge retailers who stand to be impacted by it. "I'm all for it, obviously," says Danny Plaisance, owner of Cottonwood Books on Perkins Road. "To be objective, if I was a vendor who sold books online all over the country, it would be very difficult, so I'd hate to have to be facing it. But in fairness, it does level the playing field." That's the general argument most brick-and-mortar retailers make when they're asked about the bill. Corey Tisdale, CEO of ShoppersChoice.com—which generates the majority of its revenue via online sales—says he doesn't support the bill and isn't convinced it's really about "leveling the playing field." Rather, he feels it will give large online retailers like Amazon.com—which is now supporting the bill after years of opposing the...

Claitor to start construction on second phase of shopping center

Jon Claitor says he is getting ready to begin construction on the 10,000-square-foot, second portion of his shopping center, Acadian-Perkins Plaza, at the corner of Perkins Road and South Acadian Thruway. Construction on the build-out is scheduled to begin in May, and will include seven retail spaces, five of which have tenant deals in the works, including a restaurant. Claitor tells Daily Report he expects to finalize those deals next week. Claitor has also signed a letter of intent with an undisclosed developer for the 12,500-foot-space that was occupied by CVS before fire destroyed the shopping center in January 2010. Claitor has signed a confidentiality agreement with the developer and cannot discuss specifics of the plans, which he says are related to family entertainment. —Stephanie Riegel