Longtime retailer leaving downtown (con't)

But the company, which owns the building and an adjacent one housing the Windsor Symphony offices, will still keep its storage, repair and administrative offices on other floors at the Ouellette location.

“It’s only the main floor which is 3800 sq ft that is moving to a different location,” Twigg said.

He said his realtor is in discussions with a potential new tenant “who’s very interested” in the space but nothing has yet been finalized.

“It would just be way too nice to get both things done at the same time,” he said.

Twigg said the firm, which originally was on Chatham St. at the site of Lefty’s Lounge, has suffered from fewer Americans coming across the border to purchase and maintain furs.

To compensate the company “went to where the business is” and purchased a well known Grosse Pointe retailer in 2009 and took a large part of the business to the U.S.

“The result of that was we got a whole new client list and a whole new positioning over there – so that covers off at least the east side of Detroit,” he said.

Meanwhile in Southfield Michigan on Metro Detroit’s west side Lazare’s set up a joint venture with an agent, a jewellery business, where Lazare’s has a presence inside the store.

Lazare’s also has Michigan agents in Rochester and Lincoln Park.

On the Canadian side it has agents in Leamington and Chatham.

Twigg said the customer base has traditionally been about half American when the storage and maintenance parts of the business are added in.

“The retail at one time was higher US,” he said.

Lazare’s is the last major furrier in Windsor.

Twigg said the company has also diversified its merchandise to attract newer markets.

It sells handbags and designer scarves as well as the UGG Australia boots line.

“We’ve kind of tried to diversify our product mix which has worked well but still we’re not getting enough traffic downtown, it just boils down to that,” he said.

Twigg, who used to be chair of the downtown business association in the 1990s, fully supports the recent changes to downtown Windsor, such as attracting college and university departments.

He says Lazare’s will still have a “significant investment” and wants the core to be successful.

The post-secondary moves “could become a whole new image for the downtown which could be very very positive,” he said.

But, “I think it will take a long while before high end retail resurfaces downtown.”

WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept 14 2011

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Tomorrow's downtown: furs out, edgier stores in

Lazare’s furriers is moving out of downtown because of lack of foot traffic. But that doesn’t necessarily mean new forms of retail won't be successful in the coming months and years, says a spokeswoman for the downtown. With hundreds of post-secondary students to be studying downtown in the next few years there will be many opportunities for retailers to serve that market, Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association Chair Virginia Cosco-Pizzuti said. “The fur market probably is not there any longer,” she said. “If I were to guess, students aren’t going to be popping into furriers to buy furs. But they may go into art supply stores or they may go into an Apple store.” Cosco-Pizzuti says the BIA will soon embark on a retail strategy to attract merchants and aid retailers who “want to take a chance” with the new younger demographic. “Now more than ever the opportunity is here with the influx of, what, 2000 to 3000 students coming into the core within the next 18 months or so.” The strategy would help retailers “take advantage of all this walk by traffic.” She couldn’t say whether there might be grants to retailers but noted the BIA’s store facade improvement program, launched two years ago, provided up to $15,000 funding – or 50 per cent of costs – for retailers who wanted to spruce up the outside look of their businesses. - 9/14/11