New department store set to open in Marietta

MARIETTA — The biggest space in the Lafayette Square shopping center is changing tenants, with a grand opening scheduled for June 27.

The Peebles Department Store will close in mid-June for 10 days to be replaced by a Gordman’s outlet. Both store brands are owned by Stage, which also operates Bealls, Goody’s and Palais Royal stores.

The Gordman’s swap is part of a national change over the summer which will see Peebles, a mid-scale department store, replaced by Gordman’s, an off-price chain that offers discounted name-brand articles and off-brand goods ranging from clothing to housewares. Gordman’s is opening 25 new locations in Ohio and 11 in other states, the company said.

In Marietta, the grand opening is planned for 9 a.m. June 27.

Blakeley Graham, brand publicity manager for Stage Stores, said in emailed responses to questions that the new store will maintain the same staffing levels as Peebles and intends to hire more people. The average staffing for a Gordman’s store is about 20 people, she said.

The conversion of Peebles to Gordman’s, she said, reflects changes in customer preferences.

“Consumers are responding to the off-price retail model, which means shoppers are enjoying trend-right merchandise at incredible values,” she said. “… by converting Gordman’s into an off-price model, it gave us entry into one of the strongest growth channels in retail.”

Stage Stores first quarter earnings report indicated that cash flow improved compared to the previous quarter although the company declared a loss, in part because of temporary closures for its program of store conversions.

“We are very pleased with the results of our strategy to pivot from a department store that was overly dependent on apparel to a retailer that provides our guests with greater value, a broader assortment of merchandise categories …” Stage CEO Michael Glazer said in May news release.

Like other off-price retailers, such as competitors T.J. Maxx and Ross Dress for Less, Gordman’s will be offering constantly changing inventories.

That model makes it a challenge to offer online purchasing because the lines of goods change rapidly.

“Due to the variety of fresh new merchandise arriving at Gordman’s each week, we recommend that shoppers visit the store,” Graham said, adding that Gordman’s.com offers store information and blogs on fashion and home decor trends. The store in Marietta, she said, will receive two to three tractor-trailer loads of new goods per week.

Lafayette Plaza LLC, whose address is in New York, N.Y., owns the shopping center but could not be contacted. The property, about 100,000 square feet on 12 acres, holds 19 tenants, including the Odyssey 7 cinema in a separate building, and on Friday had three vacant storefronts, all on the building’s east side facing the Lafayette Square branch of the Washington County Public Library.

The opening ceremony on June 27 is expected to be attended by a number of local leaders, including Mayor Joe Matthews and Marietta High School Principal Chad Rinard.

Matthews said Friday the event is a good sign.

“I’m happy to see another store opening up, it’s good that they won’t have an empty storefront,” he said. “I wish them well, hope they’re successful.”

Rinard will be there at Stage’s invitation because the company, as a gesture of goodwill toward the community, will present the school with a check for $1,000.

“It was definitely a welcome surprise, we’re kind of excited about it,” Rinard said. “Our math department is looking at the purchase of some laptops or Chromebooks, and we might put part of this toward computer carts, they hold about 30 of them, so the teachers can move them around. This will really help us out.”

The community is invited to the opening, which will include a ribbon-cutting.


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