Downtown Birmingham has grown by two national retailers in recent weeks, adding a Paper Source artisan paper and stationery vendor and a J. McLaughlin clothing store. Representatives from the city head to New York City next week to make a case for why other nationals should bring their business to Birmingham.
The push to attract stores better known in larger cities such as Chicago -- where a Paper Source draws metro Detroiters -- started about two years ago as a new initiative of the city's Principal Shopping District..
Cindy Ciura, a consultant for the district and principal of CCConsulting, says the city is achieving that goal while also attracting local businesses.
"i think most urban areas are a combo of both local and national... the successful ones. There are a few holes for retailers like Paper Source and J. McLaughlin that fill a need out there in the market…"
She says the two newer establishments have reported huge crowds and great sales.
"When you talk to retailers about Michigan in general there is concern because of auto companies, unemployment, etc. Having these national retailers here shows others that we are OK, that there is a market here."
J. McLaughlin, which sells Ralph Lauren-esque American classic styles for men, women and pets, is located at 268 Maple. Paper Source, which deals in artisanal papers, specialty stationery invitations, greeting cards and unique gifts, is at Maple at Pierce.
In the last year several local businesses, including Sanders, have opened and are doing well, Ciura says.
The business success combined with some good press, including Birmingham being named by CNN and Money
magazine as one of the top ten towns with six-figure incomes, and as the fifth most successful walkable suburb by the Wall Street Journal
, has generated excitement around a trip to the International Council of Shopping Centers national conference in New York City.
Members of the principal shopping district, which is backed by 300 retailers, will go to New York City to share the successes and the headlines and more, Ciura says.
"It's a great opportunity to mix," she says, "and tell these retailers what's great about Birmingham."
Source: Cindy Ciura, spokesperson, Birmingham Principal Shopping District
Writer: Kim North Shine