Businesses prepare for the loss of REI in Spenard
Some businesses are sad to see their longtime neighbor in Spenard leave.
"We're going to miss REI," said the manager of the Middle Way Cafe, Nuanta Sythe.
Middle Way Cafe sits in the same building as REI. The company announced it will be moving to the Midtown Mall into a larger space. Sythe says both businesses have complemented each other's brand of a healthy lifestyle and enjoys the traffic REI generates for the cafe.
"Whenever we go over to REI we usually hop over to Mid Way Cafe," said shopper Lisa Carey.
KTVA saw her in Middle Way Cafe holding an REI bag.
Sythe says she doesn't expect much of an impact from REI moving, as far as the cafe's business, because of its loyal customer base. It may be a little tougher for less established businesses.
"It's going to be a challenge for Spenard to lose an anchor tenant like that in the Northern Lights Center," said Bill Popp, who is the president and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation.
Popp says the shopping center has other anchor tenants that will continue to attract traffic. Sythe mentioned the Alaska Club and Title Wave books as two such businesses. But Popp says an area that loses an anchor tenant may have to work a little hard to develop more opportunities for traffic. He mentioned being more aggressive on social media, as well as doing something competing stores may not have considered before.
"There's also a collaboration between different businesses that might otherwise be viewed as competitors where they come together and do events together that would bring traffic into all respective businesses," said Popp.
The new REI store at Midtown Mall, which is currently undergoing renovations, is expected to hold a grand opening early next year. No word yet what will replace the current store on Northern Lights.
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