RELATED: Store to close at Upper Valley Mall, reopen on Bechtle in Springfield
Unique Furnishings Plus has been open for close to a decade in the Southern Village Shopping Center, but needed more space as it has expanded, said Charles Dean, the business’ owner. The store specializes in finding antique and unusual furniture and other decorative items, but also sells newer items.
“There are people who are looking for top quality stuff,” Dean said. “We think we have it.”
The business has outgrown its current location, he said, and the former Elder Beerman store will offer enough space for a showroom and plenty of storage. Dean said the business would likely use about half the available space in the former department store, and it’s possible he could provide additional space to other vendors as long as they meet his business’ standards.
The current location is about 25,000 square feet, and his store has five employees. Along with additional space, the mall location also provides easier access to his customers from Urbana and New Carlisle, Dean said.
“We want to be a part of helping the mall grow,” Dean said.
READ MORE: Upper Valley Mall faces uphill battle to attract tenants
Marlon Howard grew up working in the salon business in stores owned by his step-mother and his aunt. But Sheer Perfection will be the first business he’s owned, he said. He also said he wants to draw more customers back to the mall and said the salon will offer a wide range of services.
“We thought the mall would be perfect because of all the foot traffic they still have,” Howard said. “I know they’re trying to build that business back up. It’s a perfect location because there are no hair salons there now. All malls need hair salons.”
Last month, mall officials confirmed Christopher & Banks would close its location and reopen this spring in the Bechtle Crossing shopping center in the former Lane Bryant store.
Other chains, including Rue 21 and Kay Jewelers, have also left the mall to open locations on Bechtle Avenue. J.C. Penney and Macy’s left in 2015.
MORE COVERAGE: New business at Upper Valley Mall focuses on offering reduced items
Many national retailers faces challenges as shopping habits change, LaBonte said, and more people make purchases online. She said malls need to be more creative when looking to fill vacant spaces.
“We can’t stay the same and grow,” LaBonte said. “We have to be sensitive to the local retail market and what’s going on. We’re going to be non-traditional.”
The Springfield News-Sun provides award-winning coverage of retail and business in Clark and Champaign counties, including extensive coverage of challenges facing area retail chains, as well as recent challenges at the Upper Valley Mall.