Thursday, January 5, 2012

Can Davenport, Iowa Trump New York, New York in Dunwoody?

General Growth Properties (GGP), owner of Perimeter Mall, announced today that Davenport, Iowa-based Von Maur will open in the space being vacated by Bloomingdale's.  In case you missed it, Bloomingdale's will close four stores this coming March, among them, their three level, 8-year-old location at Perimeter Mall. The store is to open late this fall but I'm not so sure it makes sense.

Just this past fall, the retailer opened their first Atlanta location, in a former Lord & Taylor, former Belk, in North Point Mall in Alpharetta (also owned by GGP). If I were them, I'd want to wait and see how store one in the market peformed before opening store two.  I highly doubt there is a long line of suitable and interested retailers waiting to open anchor size stores in Atlanta.

While Bloomingdale's at Perimeter suffered partially because of thefts and questionable merchandising, it was also too close to Lenox Square.  Von Maur's North Point Mall store is about 13 miles away from their planned Perimeter store, and each serves a different market, but I still worry about having the two so close. By comparison, the two Bloomingdale's locations were about 7 miles apart, but Bloomingdales's, a national retailer, had plenty of marketing and money to support two stores.

It was mentioned that Lord & Taylor might re-enter the market, and honestly, that makes more sense than this.  Having visited the Von Maur in North Point, I found a number of similarities between it and Seattle, Washington-based Nordstrom, a store that will be located just feet away in Perimeter Mall.  Interestingly, Von Maur does have a "good, better, best" strategy in the merchandise they offer.  Basically, brands that are of good quality and price, better, and most expensive / high quality.  In the guys' section for instance, one could find DKNY and Columbia (good brands) with 7 Diamonds (better) and finally, Burberry (best).

As I stated on the DeathWatch this past fall, the way for Bloomingdale's to get out of its lease was if another retailer was waiting in the wings to open its place.  Von Maur, it seems, is that retailer  While I'm not a fan of the store sitting empty,  I'm not totally sure it's the right move for Von Maur.

What do you think?  Is Von Maur too similar to Nordstrom or will the two stores compliment each other?  Is Von Maur getting ahead of itself opening a second location so soon after its first?  Please share your thoughts below.

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Anonymous said...

I think this is an odd move. I'm frankly not surprised that Bloomingdale's at Perimeter is closing, but Von Maur taking it's place? I was reading an article on the AJC about this and it said something to the affect that Bloomingdale's caters to a very specific customer type - one who is very rarefied and that Perimeter was not a luxury mall and didn't really draw the specific customer type Bloomingdale's was looking for.

Von Maur, to me, is very very similar to Bloomingdale's. Like you said they have the good, better, best strategy and Bloomingdale's did too. You could find good, more reasonably priced brands as well as the best, super expensive brands. I just don't think replacing a struggling store with the exact same type of store that hasn't really been tested in the Atlanta area is a good idea, but I suppose as far as the mall is concerned it's better than having a 3 story anchor sit empty for a while.

Anonymous said...

Von Maur is not as expensive nor as trendy as Bloomingdales, and in Atlanta 2 Bloomingdales were unfortunately too much for people here. Thankfully Von Maur is better than Belk, but it's no different then having a Nordstrom at Phipps and a Nordstrom at Perimeter. I don't see why a Perimeter Mall location would be a bad thing just because they have a store at North Point... they have been wanting to expand further here anyways. I could see one opening in Atlantic Station next to Dillard's...

Anonymous said...

not suprising in the least. A Perimeter shopper wouldnt normally make that drive to North Point for Von Maur. It seems to me Von Maur is being aggressive in its expansion in the South because they see a niche that needs to be filled. Once upon a time Parisian filled that niche. Unfortunately SAKS ruined their reputation by no longer focusing on quality and service, which Parisian was known for through the mid 80s.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Davenport (I even went to High School with some of the Von Maur's). I'm surprised how well the stores have done, but as for the discussion that two stores are too close, remember that in the Quad Cities (a market of under 400,000) they have had two stores closer together for over 30 years (at one point they had 3). The same was true in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids until recently. And they are in a number of smaller markets: Waterloo, Peoria, Ft Wayne.... So they probably don't need the density that a store like Nordstrom or Bloomingdales. And I still think of them as "Petersens" - when I grew up they were known as Petersen Harned von Maur

J.T. said...

Belk and Von Maur need to do a swap. Belk should move their flagship into this old Davison's store while Von Maur should take over the old Parisian at Phipps. That would be a better fit for both stores and would put them in prime positions for their respective markets.

Atlantan99 said...

Hey J.T.,

You make some good points and perhaps that would make sense for the market but alas... it will never happen.

Thanks for reading and for the comments.

Lee at said...

I can't help but to think that Von Maur's Perimeter location would cannibalize sales from North Point. I'm no expert on retail though.

At one point you had their North Point store on your deathwatch list. I would consider adding them back. The Perimeter store is much more likely to be a success.