If you’re seeing stars, it’s probably because of the dizzying number of Macy’s logos that have popped up across the region in the past decade.
In the past four years alone, Macy’s has drastically increased its tri-county presence. Thanks to a new store at Simi Valley Town Center and its 2006 acquisition of Robinson’s May, the Ohio-based chain operates six stores in the region and is hungry to grow some more.
For its seventh tri-county site, Macy’s is reportedly eyeing the high-profile space in the San Luis Obispo Promenade currently occupied by Gottschalks. A city official confirmed the company’s interest in the property, but representatives at Macy’s are determined to remain tight-lipped about future projects.
“When we have plans, we announce them,” said Jim Sluzewski, senior vice president of corporate communications for Macy’s.
Sluzewski said Macy’s has “no currently announced plans for any store openings” in the region, but that may change July 7 when the Gottschalk’s 123,000-square-foot store is auctioned off by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Gottschalks filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January and started liquidation March 31.
“There is a little bit of swirl happening with inquiries being made by a variety of retailers, Macy’s included,” said Claire Clark, San Luis Obispo’s economic development director. “The input I have gotten tells me people would love to see a Macy’s in that location.”
The San Luis Obispo Gottschalks has been a major shopping destination since it opened there in 1986, and Clark said the established location makes it very desirable to retailers that want to expand into San Luis Obispo County.
“There are a couple of things that make this a very interesting location for them,” Clark said. “Retailers would not be starting a new store from scratch. I think it is very much sought after because it’s so easy to get in there and do business.”
Clark said T.J. Maxx and JCPenney also have expressed interest in the space, and she’s not surprised.
“Because this is an existing storefront that has a retail use, there are many fewer limits for the successful bidder,” she said. “It is a much simpler process when you go into an existing location. If you build a new building, you have to go through the environmental impact review process and then the payment of impact fees and a variety of other things that can be long and costly.”
Macy’s was able to avoid those particular regulatory pitfalls in 2006 when it took over two former Robinsons-May department stores, one in the Santa Maria Town Center shopping mall and the other anchoring Santa Barbara’s La Cumbre Plaza.
Macy’s other tri-county locations are in The Oaks mall in Thousand Oaks, the Simi Valley Town Center, the Pacific View Mall in Ventura and a second Santa Barbara store in the Paseo Nuevo shopping center.
The Gottschalks closure leaves Sears as the city’s sole department store, but Kohl’s is expected to open just 580 feet away in a recently closed Mervyn’s store.
One of the nation’s oldest retailers, Macy’s operates more than 800 stores across the country. Its corporate offices are in New York and Cincinnati. Macy’s reported $24.9 billion in net sales in 2008.