Market Place Mall’s new edition

By Yuri Ozeki

Store employees and managers cheered as Champaign Mayor Gerald Schweighart, cut through a thick, red ribbon Saturday morning, signifying the grand opening of Market Place Mall’s latest addition: the Courtyard.

“I’m always glad when the mall adds stores,” Schweighart said. “Malls across the nation are losing business and shutting down, so it’s good to see our mall expanding. These series of upscale stores are new to the area. It’s a beautiful addition, and we’re happy to welcome them to the area.”

Market Place Mall, at 2000 North Neil St. in Champaign, welcomed three new stores: Coldwater Creek, J. Jill and Ann Taylor Loft. The stores are an attempt to capture a different demographic of more mature and sophisticated women. Located between Sears and Famous Barr, the stores are accented with park benches, lampposts, a fountain and flowerbeds. Each stores has individual exterior entrances as well.

Nora Dukowitz, Market Place Mall marketing manager, organized the grand opening and was pleased with the event.

“We’re happy to have these stores, and they’re doing awesome,” Dukowitz said. “We started thinking of this concept about two years ago. The overall response in the mall industry shows that there is a trend toward (creating) an outdoor feel while shopping.

The Courtyard gives a natural outdoors, downtown feel, but with the convenience of indoor shopping. Shoppers repeatedly requested to add these specific stores. We expect the stores to do very well as the property is doing well and prospering.”

For the grand opening, there were many planned events throughout the weekend. Along with the ribbon cutting ceremony, store greeters distributed flyers and WIXY 100.3 FM broadcasted from the opening.

Coldwater Creek store manager Tobi Burnett was excited about the customers’ reaction.

“We’re excited to be in Champaign,” Burnett said. “We have had an outstanding response. It’s been phenomenal since our store opening on Aug. 23. People were waiting on opening day. Customers have walked in to actually thank us for opening here because they have been long-time catalog shoppers.”

As the store is new to the area, Coldwater Creek also is new to in-store retail, Burnett said.

“We have been a catalog company for 21 years,” Burnett said. “From 150 stores, we hope to continue growing to 500.”

Ann Taylor Loft has been open since Sept. 8 and Coldwater Creek since August, leaving J. Jill as the most recent store, which opened Thursday.

Laurie Widner, store manager of J. Jill, was busy greeting customers and supervising the store on opening day.

“It’s been great,” Widner said. “I think people were waiting for us to come. There has been an amazing overall response.”