Image of a brand new Von Maur store from "The Pitch Blogs" by Jen Chen.
The jury is out whether Von Maur will be a hit in Atlanta. Their first store and flagship will be opening at North Point Mall. North Point Mall is a huge mall and generally considered a high end mall, but has suffered from being marginalized by the upscaling of Perimeter Mall, opening of Mall of Georgia in 1999 and subsequent losses of Lord & Taylor in 2005 and Parisian in 2006. People have wondered for awhile what would fill this slot after Belk, another family-owned store, unceremoniously flopped badly in the mall's location. This will definitely bring some caché back to this location, albeit through a store completely unfailiar to the market. Von Maur plans to creatively deal with the garish exterior, which envokes the 70's. They will also be expanding into the mall to increase the footprint of the store from 115,000 square feet to 140,000 square feet.
Future Von Maur location as Lord & Taylor in 2005. The store operated as Belk from 2007-2009.
With Atlanta shoppers fickle, this is still a risky proposition. However, it is wortwhile to consider two things: first, Atlanta is full of transplants from other areas including the midwest. Second, Kohl's from Wisconsin has done considerably well here since it opened in 2001. In addition, the market near North Point Mall is very underserved in terms of luxury retail despite a very affluent population. Even with the overall regional economy still reeling, perhaps a new high-end department store in an existing location could still work and I certainly hope it does. After all, it is worth considering that luxury giant Nordstrom was hardly familiar to the market when it arrived in 1997, and Neiman Marcus took a gamble when it arrived in Atlanta in 1972. Both were phenomenally successful moves for those companies. If this works, I hope then they will turn their sights to other Southern cities, such as Columbia, SC (Richland Mall), Charleston, SC and Birmingham, who lost their very own Parisian. Von Maur seems like they have the right idea bringing luxury shopping to underserved markets, and their success in Atlanta will be the key to these future expansion efforts.