July 27, 2008

Shopping Center Needs Stores

By Jenny Kincaid Boone, The Roanoke Times, Va.

Jul. 27--A retail strip center is under construction on U.S. 220 in Roanoke, but it lacks an important detail -- the stores.

Work crews are building Hunting Hills Station, a 4,700-square-foot center near Starbucks and Home Depot. To make way for the development, they demolished most of a structure at the site that formerly housed a pool and spa store.

Adam Cohen, a partner in the project, said he chose the area because of the large amount of traffic that passes by it each day.

"I thought it was an excellent location," said Cohen, who also owns Structures Design/Build, a local building company.

"It will be high visibility, good access."

But he's still seeking retailers to lease three potential spaces in the soon-to-be completed center. Cohen said he'd like to draw a mix of businesses there, such as a cellular phone store, offices or a pizza or sub shop.

He expects to begin renovating the spaces for tenants by September.

El Gran Matador

A new restaurant has moved into a retail center at Peters Creek and Williamson roads in Roanoke County, but two stores there have closed.

El Gran Matador, a Mexican eatery, opened in April. The bar and restaurant serves lunch and dinner.

A discount retailer, 1-2-3 Shopping Spree, located beside El Gran Matador, appears to have closed. A recent sign on its door stated "closed until further notice," yet the store still is stocked with merchandise.

This retailer opened at the center last year, selling all merchandise at $3 or less. D&B Distributing in Lynchburg, a company that formerly owned the Dollar Duz It chain, has opened 1-2-3 Shopping Spree stores in cities throughout central Virginia. Officials with D&B Distributing did not return calls for comment.

Also, Cafe Soleil, a coffee and food shop located on the other side of El Gran Matador, has shut down. A sign on its front window recently advertised that the business is for sale, listing restaurant equipment, smoothie mixes, organic tea and coffee, among many items for sale.

PG Computer Outlet

After eight years of selling and repairing computers, Patrick Gobble is logging off.

Gobble is closing PG Computer Outlet, a computer sales and repair shop on Hardy Road in Vinton.

He has marked down the prices of many of the store's new and used computers. He wants to sell at least 80 percent of his inventory.

Gobble got his start in computer sales and repair after years of "tinkering" with computers, he said.

He opened the Vinton store in 2001.

Now, Gobble said he's shutting its doors by the of this month, because "there's just no money to be made in the computer business."

Gobble, of Hardy, attributed his slow sales to competition from larger computer companies, such as Dell.

"The only money that we do make is on service and repairs and upgrades," he said.

His shop carries a variety of computer brands, from Compaq to Hewlett-Packard.

Gobble said he'll continue to offer repair and other services on his own. Meanwhile, PG Computer Outlet's storefront will be become office space once it closes, he said.

News from the Storefront blog at blogs.roanoke.com/storefront/

n Virginia's sales tax holiday for back-to-school shopping is Friday through Aug. 3.

n Discuss how long you will wait in line at a store before you walk out.

n A local Domino's Pizza restaurant is offering drivers a bonus of $100 to work there.


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Copyright (c) 2008, The Roanoke Times, Va.

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