Discount department store chain Roses is entering the Akron market, opening a store in a plaza on Buchholzer Boulevard across from Chapel Hill Mall.
The chain, based in Henderson, N.C., and with most of its stores in the Southeast, has been making inroads into Ohio, finding landlords eager to cut deals.
Roses Ohio district manager Steve Whitfield noted, “There’s a lot of buildings in Ohio that need somebody to go in.”
The Akron store is set to open Sept. 1 in 60,000 square feet of space that for years housed a Value City Department Store in the older Buchholzer Boulevard strip that has been hit by vacancies.
The Value City closed a few years ago and most recently, the space was home to what was called the Weekend Mall, where a variety of merchants sold goods on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The Akron Roses store is among more than 100 in the chain and will be the fourth to open in Ohio.
The first Roses in Ohio opened late last year in Canton Township, in the Meyers Lake Shopping Center on Whipple Avenue. A second Ohio store opened in the Columbus area this summer. Another store is planned to open in Columbus this week.
At least a handful of other Ohio locations are planned within the next few months.
Roses stores tout their “everyday low prices,” and feature some closeouts, but the stores are not closeout/buyout emporiums a la Big Lots, officials say.
The stores offer men’s, women’s and children’s clothing —with many items priced at $15 or less. Roses also carry health and beauty items, housewares, snacks, seasonal items and toys — many priced at $5 or $10.
The Akron store, with 40 to 50 full- and part-time workers, will have a furniture and flooring department, including carpeting and laminate flooring.
Wilson Sawyer, president of Roses parent Variety Wholesalers Inc., said from his office in North Carolina that the move into Ohio is “kind of a natural progression for us.” He noted the company opened stores in Pennsylvania last year.
Privately owned Variety Wholesalers keeps operational costs low by leasing existing space — never building new, he said.
“There’s just a lot of retail space available in Ohio, I guess simply because of closings [of other retailers],” Sawyer said.
Sawyer hopes the new store will encourage another business to lease vacant space in the Buchholzer strip that most recently housed an hhgregg appliance store. In March, hhgregg moved to a nearby strip, The Plaza at Chapel Hill, off Howe Avenue.
The Buchholzer strip dates to the late 1960s and is owned by Tennessee company CBL & Associates Properties Inc., which bought it and Chapel Hill Mall from the late Richard Buchholzer and Forest City Enterprises in 2004.
Katie Reinsmidt, spokeswoman for CBL & Associates, declined comment on progress the company is making in leasing the space.
Area commercial real estate investor Bob Cooper, director of commercial real estate company CBRE Akron, could not give firm data on vacancy rates for the Chapel Hill Mall area, but said he suspects the rate for newer properties — called Class A and B — is 10 or 11 percent or higher. That compares, he said, with under 5 percent along the West Market Street retail corridor in West Akron and the Montrose shopping district west of the city.
Cooper was not involved in leasing the Buchholzer Boulevard space to Roses.
Variety Wholesalers has roots in a chain that was just five stores in 1949.
The company rapidly grew through acquisitions in the 1970s and early 1980s. Facing stiff competition from Wal-Mart and others in the 1980s, Variety Wholesalers closed many locations, before expanding again through acquisition.
Variety Wholesalers encompasses more than 425 retail establishments, including roughly 110 Roses stores. Other Variety Wholesalers stores go by the name of Maxway, as well as Super 10, Popes, Eagles, Super Dollar, and Bill’s Dollar Stores, which compete with Dollar General outlets.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or email@example.com.