Growing retail market in Shreveport attracts new businesses 
 A great new article about Shoppes at Bellemead from the Shreveport Times. Click here for more.

Shreveport native Heather Gahagan knew Shreveport was a “natural fit” for her clothing boutique Vertigo Clothing.Gahagan looked around different parts of the city, including the uptown shopping center. But she found Shoppes at Bellemead offered the perfect energy and location.

“In that area right now, it just kind of seems the hub of the city,” she said. “With people moving to the southern end of town, it’s a midpoint for a lot of residents.”

The clothing store is one of five stores that recently opened at the upscale shopping center. It and Fireflies Children’s Boutique moved into the main buildings of the Youree Drive shopping center, while three other apparel shops moved into a new building in the rear.

The expansion was something Vintage Realty planned to do since the upscale shopping center opened in 2005. But the developer was waiting for the right timing and tenants, Shoppes at Bellemead manager Hugh Kerr said.

Construction started in August, and four months later, Apricot Lane Boutique, Charming Charlie and Altar’D State opened their doors to the city.

Building permits show the structure and its indoor improvements cost an estimated $2.6 million.

Kerr said Vintage was confident about expanding because of the shopping center’s past success even during the 2008 recession.

“It’s a destination shopping center, and it’s one of a kind in the area,” Kerr said, referring to why it continues to do well.

The shopping center’s location and the area’s retail market growth were part of the attraction to Shreveport, shop owners said.

Apricot Lane Boutique owner Cristi Hargroves said similar to the Dallas-Fort Worth retail market, where she operates five additional stores, demographic data showed retail spending in Shreveport did not decline as much as other areas of the country. Hargroves operates additional stores in Florida, California, Oklahoma and Missouri.

Shreveport’s year-to-date retail sales are up 4.2 percent from a year ago, LSU Shreveport Center for Business and Economic Research data through October show. The same data show sales dropped by 9 percent from the month before.

Beck Berry, research center director, said from simply observing the long lines of traffic at stop lights and parked cars at stores on Youree Drive, it appears retail spending is up.

The increase is a positive indicator, but more data are needed to determine if Shreveport’s retail spending is on an upward swing.

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