Roses department store to leave Chapel Hill's University Mall in June

tgrubb@newsobserver.comApril 2, 2014 

— Chapel Hill’s last department store will be leaving University Mall in late June, company officials said.

The department store, along with Ivey’s and Hudson Belk, was an anchor store for the new mall in 1973. Dillard’s replaced Ivey’s department store in the 1980s and closed in January.

Roses officials said customers should start seeing closeout sales in the next week or so.

Ann Hoover, of Chapel Hill, was shopping the sunglasses rack at Roses with her daughter Wednesday afternoon.

She heard the store was closing and was not happy about it, Hoover said. She doesn’t like to drive to Durham, but that’s the only way to shop at Dillard’s now, and it will be the only option if you want to shop at any department stores when Roses is gone, she said.

“I don’t know what they see as a shopping mall anymore,” Hoover said of the mall’s management.

Gov. Pat McCrory’s deputy budget director Art Pope owns Roses’ parent company, Variety Wholesalers Inc., based in Henderson.

Wilson Sawyer, the company’s president and chief operating officer, said the mall’s increased the store’s rent “pretty substantially” when the lease ran out last year. It was more than they wanted to pay, but they stayed, he said.

In February, mall management told them the store would have to shrink to roughly half its current size and pay more or end its lease, he said.

“We’re just as upset as the folks who have been shopping with us for 40 years,” Sawyer said.

Robyn Marano, vice president of marketing for mall owner Madison Marquette, declined to comment about what led to the decision.

“As a matter of corporate policy, we do not comment on current, or prior lease negotiations,” she said.

Roughly 30 to 40 employees will be laid off, Sawyer said. They can seek jobs in the company’s other Roses and Maxway stores, he said.

The company has two Roses stores and one Maxway in Durham, and additional stores, including a planned Roses Express, in Raleigh. The store on N.C. 54 near Streets at Southpoint in Durham will be remodeled later this year, he said.

The company has opened three new Roses stores so far this year, plus 15 to 20 more in each of the last two years, he said.

It’s too early to name a possible replacement, but the mall will announce more changes in the coming months, Marano said.

“Rose’s has been a valued tenant at our center for over 40 years, and we wish them the best,” she said. “We view their departure as an opportunity to enhance our retail, dining and entertainment offerings by welcoming new tenants to our center that will continue to serve the needs of our community, shopping and dining patrons.”

TrySports, Peacock Alley and Kidzu Children’s Museum have opened mall storefronts in the last three months. Longtime downtown Chapel Hill clothing store Fine Feathers moved in this week, and Venezuela-based Silverspot Cinemas could open a 13-screen luxury theater alongside a new restaurant, Tacos and Tequila, later this year.

The theater and restaurant renovations are expected to start in the former Dillard’s space in the next few weeks, mall officials said.

Sawyer said he knows who the new tenant is but would not divulge the name.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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