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3/16/2003

Colorado Mills patrons just aren’t buying it

The Associated Press

DENVER — The Arlington, Va.-based parent company of Colorado Mills said it has cut an average of five employees per property as it loses retailers at the new mall.

Mills Corp. operates at least 12 regional malls, two shopping centers and other properties.

Colorado Mills spokeswoman Karrie Patterson declined to say exactly how many jobs were cut at the mall in west Denver, which has been losing stores since it opened with about 200 stores in November.

At least a dozen stores on short-term leases and license agreements have quietly packed up and left.

“When any mall opens, a strong developer will try to open with every space they can occupy,” said Mary Beth Jenkins, president of the Laramie Co., a commercial real estate brokerage and consultant.

The idea is that when the mall opens almost full, the tenants get a chance to see if the space will succeed, she said.

Some stores at Colorado Mills, such as Calendar Collection and Hickory Farms, were seasonal and were always meant to be temporary. Others left after disappointing post-holiday sales drops.

“The mall is great. It’s the economy. People come, they look, they don’t buy,” said Peter Trela, owner of Gentleman’s Collection, whose store sells tuxedos and men’s suits priced from $250 to $700.

Aspen-based Polar Revolution, a five-store chain that sells ski and snowboarding equipment, had an outlet store at Colorado Mills when it opened. It has since closed.

“For us, it was a temporary license agreement,” said Steven Shane, a principal in the company.

“We did fine through December, then the bottom fell out in January. It was not really worth our while to stay after that.”

Nationally, U.S. retail sales have fallen for three consecutive weeks, according to ShopperTrak’s National Retail Sales Estimate, including a 1 percent drop for the week ending March 8. The report blames the slump largely on the threat of war.