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