From shoe stores to clothing sales to beauty and salon outlets, change is happening in Norman and nationwide.
Old Navy clothing retailer first opened on Ed Noble Parkway in Norman where it occupied a 12,500 square foot space.
In December 1999, word leaked out that Old Navy was moving to Sooner Mall where it grabbed a more generous 33,000 square foot home.
A few years ago, Old Navy stayed put, but “right sized” back down to 17,000 square feet with Get Air trampoline park taking the rest of the space the clothing retailer once occupied in Sooner Mall.
Change has always happened in the retail world, said the city’s Retail Marketing Coordinator Sara Kaplan. The difference right now is those changes seem to be on fast forward.
“I think we’ll see as retail continues, evolution, not an apocalypse, and it’s evolving at a faster rate than it has in decades,” Kaplan said. “It’s just changing.”
In looking at the retail footprint sizes, Kaplan found no consistent trends, though nationwide, the economy may be contributing to lower-end merchants getting a bigger share of the market. Old Navy is a subsidiary of Gap, but in Sooner Mall, Old Navy was always the larger store.
Now, Gap is gone from the mall, but Old Navy remains.
In March, Business Insider reported that while Gap Inc. has struggled in recent years, Old Navy’s strong sales have continued to increase due to price conscious consumers.
Online sales and the economy have certainly contributed to retail patterns, but other consumer preferences in retail are harder to follow.
For example, while many stores are reducing their footprint, stores like Ulta continue to grow.
Kaplan said records indicate Ulta first opened in a 12,500 square foot space in Ed Noble Parkway. In fact, it took the space vacated by Old Navy’s move to the mall.
Now in the University North Park, Ulta has 20,000 square feet of space.
“Ulta is one of those big box formats that is doing really well and is still expanding where not all big boxes are doing well these days,” Kaplan said.
Ulta combines service provided through its salon with an opportunity to interact with products that consumers may not find elsewhere.
In addition to the salon’s focus on the latest highlights and hair styles, the skin bar offers facials and skin treatments while the brow bar includes brow shaping and facial waxes and the nail salon does gel polish all under one roof. Easy online booking to that and it’s an equation for success.
With its discount prices and large-scale selection, Ulta Beauty is challenging Sephora as the largest beauty merchant in the U.S., but Sephora seems to be growing by going small — opening Sephora Studios like the one in JC Penny at Sooner Mall.
Mergers and movers
Office Max left Ed Noble Parkway due to a nationwide merger with Office Depot, Kaplan said.
Office Depot was located in the University North Park before the merger happened and chose to keep that newer site open.
“We as residents don’t like high traffic counts, but businesses like high traffic counts,” she said.
Michaels moved from Ed Noble where it had 23,786 with a slight decrease to 21,954 in the University North park.
“They stayed about the same size, that’s not a significant change there,” Kaplan said.
Metro Shoe Warehouse, a regional Oklahoma-based chain is another surprising success story. Started as Westies with a Norman location on Ed Noble Parkway, the store rebranded itself and grew, opening up a larger site in the University North Park and now moving into its own building in the UNP.
MSW sells trending brands of casual shoes popular with college students and young adults, making Norman a prime location she said.
Chili’s Grill & Bar moved from Ed Noble Parkway, upsizing from 6,685 square feet to 8,453 square feet to accommodate a new “to go” section which Kaplan said is trending with restaurants right now once formerly considered traditional sit-down style establishments.
“A lot of those chain restaurants, their buildings are part of their brand so sometimes it’s hard to remodel and get that same look,” she said.