Easton tweaks mix with more new stores

June 6th, 2013

The Columbus Dispatch
By Tim Feran

Easton Town Center is making plans to welcome eight new stores in the coming months in hopes of inspiring repeat visits by kids and other demographic groups.

The new stores include one that is a first for Ohio and two that are either new to Columbus or are returning to the market.

“It’s all strategic, no doubt,” said Beau Arnason, executive vice president of Easton operator Steiner + Associates. “One consideration was filling out that children’s zone with stores that cater to what that shopper is seeking. You layer in experiences and figure out the best way to round out a visit.”

New to the state is Paper Source, a stationery and cards store based in Chicago. “It’s a beautiful store,” Arnason said. “A store with fine papers, stationery, cards — it’s something that we actually haven’t had at Easton, ever.”

The two stores new to the Columbus area are Swim ’n Sport designer swimwear for women and Zales Jewelers.

Most of the other new stores are also found at Polaris Fashion Place, so getting them in Easton allows the retail center to remain competitive with its chief rival.

Janie and Jack, offering classic, high-end clothing for newborns, babies and toddlers, is one that Arnason called “the grandparents’ store,” given its merchandise.

Art of Shaving is “a very cool tenant, a really cool guys’ store,” Arnason said. The national chain sells shaving supplies and grooming products in a distinctly masculine decor.

Styleout Bar, a local startup, is geared to women and is part of the recent trend toward blow-dry bars that offer no haircuts, just wash and blow-dry treatments.

Finally, two new stores aim to satisfy a shopper’s sweet tooth. Gigi’s Cupcakes and See’s Candies will help Easton “round out the food categories,” Arnason said. “Cookies, candy, ice cream, brownies and now cupcakes. We’ve always had places to eat. Now, we’ll have a lot of desserts.”

Gigi’s is scheduled to open next week. The other shops will open between August and October.

The additional stores are “a real tribute to Steiner + Associates and the way they are managing Easton,” said retail analyst Chris Boring, principal at Boulevard Strategies. “Easton is about 14 years old now and is still going strong, at a point where a lot of malls are going downhill. I think the reason why Easton is still so successful is it constantly fine-tunes its tenant mix. It’s to the point where it’s adding in niche categories.

“They’re all good tenants,” Boring said. “A lot of them weren’t around before, like the blow-dry concept. It brings back repeat visits.”

Encouraging repeat visits by offering surprising new concepts is very much part of Easton’s strategy, Arnason said. “It’s another one of those things people will discover when they come to Easton. Maybe they’ll come for American Girl, then they’ll discover the interactive fountain nearby. We think kids are going to love that fountain, with the frogs spitting water. The layering in of experiences is what we try to do.”

During the next 30 days, Easton also will open 16 previously announced stores, including the state’s first American Girl location, which opens June 22.

Those stores are part of a shopping district called Fenlon Square that will cater to children and families. The district is part of a bigger expansion push that includes Easton Gateway, a development featuring Costco and Whole Foods stores, that will open in 2014 on the east side of Easton.

Download “Easton tweaks mix with more new stores” The Columbus Dispatch, June 6, 2013.

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