The number of vacant storefronts at Town & Country Village seems to be growing. At least nine out of the center's 59 retailers — or about 15% — are vacant or have "for lease" signs hanging in the window, Traci Markel, Town & Country Village's marketing director, confirmed. Some businesses closed prior to the pandemic; others shuttered after the shutdown.
While the Weekly was unable to confirm the center's average vacancy rate during normal times prior to the pandemic, the Financial Times reported in January that the national mall vacancy rate had reached an all-time high of 9.7% at the end of 2019.
The stores that have permanently shuttered at the 855 El Camino Real shopping center include: GNC, which reportedly emptied its shelves just before the health supplement chain announced in June that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and planned to close 1,200 of its 5,200 stores across the U.S. after struggling for years to increase its sales. Ella, which sells luxury equestrian gear, closed its doors a few weeks ago and posted a sign in the window that states: "It is with appreciation that we say farewell to Town & Country Village." The company will continue to operate its online store, according to the sign. Beauty retailer SpaceNK announced on June 29 that it was closing all eight of its U.S. stores, including its Town & Country location, to focus on its wholesale business, and Sweaty Betty, which opened at Town & Country in 2017, recently announced that the pandemic had caused the women's active-wear apparel brand to close all 12 of its U.S.stores. "We've loved being part of the Palo Alto community," the company wrote on its website.
Children's hair salon Snip-its, which used to share the same building as CVS Pharmacy, closed around six months ago. Town & Country Village Cheese House, Babka by Ayelet, Create It Ceramics and Glass Studio and Ambassador Toys also all permanently closed prior to the March shutdown. Markel confirmed that Motion Stretch Studio also will not be reopening.
Amid the closures is at least one high-profile opening: Montreal-based chocolate shop Cacao 70, remains poised to take over the space of Biondivino wine store, which closed last year. The franchise announced plans for the spring opening of its second U.S. shop at Town & Country last February. For now, the shop is offering curbside pick-up service. Sur La Table also avoided having to put a lease sign in its window this month after the Seattle-based franchise announced in early July that it was filing bankruptcy and closing nearly half of its 120 high-end kitchen stores, including locations in San Jose, Santa Clara, Carmel and San Francisco — but not Palo Alto. The shop at Town & Country, which opened in 2007, is among the company's top 10 performing locations, according to floor manager Pamela Diken. "We're kind of a cash cow," she said.
Compiled by the Weekly staff; this week written by Lloyd Lee. Got leads on interesting and news-worthy retail developments? The Weekly will check them out. Email [email protected].