Friday, March 19, 2004

Retail departures don't alarm Springdale

By Liz Oakes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SPRINGDALE - Barnes & Noble might be gone, lured north to the $100 million Streets of West Chester development, but Springdale still hopes to have the last word.

Today, West Chester and Butler County officials will cut the ribbon on a new "lifestyle center" at Union Centre Boulevard that's also drawn the Hairy Cactus Salon from Sharonville.

Two weeks ago, Barnes & Noble, the national bookstore chain with five other stores in the region - in Kenwood, Florence, Hyde Park, Newport and Deerfield Township - closed its 8-year-old Springdale store on East Kemper Road. The new West Chester store opened March 3.

The Streets of West Chester is not the only Butler County development that's drawn businesses away from the Tri-County Mall area.

Last summer, Linens 'n Things moved from Springdale to Voice of America Centre off Cox Road.

"I can remember when you left Fairfield and you drove to Tri-County Mall and there were five stoplights on Route 4," said Springdale City Councilman Tom Vanover. "That was all farmland."

Vanover said he was disappointed to see Barnes & Noble leave, but "they have a business decision to make."

"The day was when we were the game in town," he said. "I think we still are."

But, he added, "There are people out there looking to get their piece of the pie. The reality is the Streets of West Chester is another try at that."

The city has acted to retain businesses.

Officials are considering promoting Tri-County Mall this summer, and Springdale has bought property at Kemper Road and Ohio 4 for a new retail development to help rejuvenate the "old town" core of the city.

"Whenever one business goes out, we seem to be lucky enough to have another come into the city," said Finance Director Ed Knox.

"We don't feel like we're being raided. The retailers are going to go where the business is."

Shoppers on Thursday at the strip center where the old Barnes & Noble was sandwiched between Dick's Sporting Goods and Best Buy said they were surprised to find the bookstore's doors locked. Many were disappointed.

Mary Martin, 57, of Forest Park, asked store employees loading up brown and black wooden tables and chairs into a truck bound for other Barnes & Noble locations how to get to the West Chester store.

She said she used to shop at the Springdale location about once a month.

Now, "more than likely, I will stop at Borders" down Kemper Road, she said.

"The traffic (on Interstate 75) is a bit much right now with construction."


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