Store Owners give mixed reviews on experience in Towne Center

After five years of operating Get Gifts in Towne Center Carl Kennedy is deciding to call it quits.

"To have it go down in defeat as you can see is very disheartening," said Kennedy.

Empty shelves and blank walls are all that remain from a store that once showcased things like jewelry and high end keepsakes and Kennedy says the sales just never added up.  Kennedy claims he was told the sales would be much higher according to a leasing company contracted by Towne Center.

'We knew we needed about 200 to 250 dollars per square foot to break even, never would we have dreamed that they would have misrepresented it from 450 to 100 dollars per square foot and that's what happened," added Kennedy.

Across the parking lot at On the bright side, Dottie Bourgeois holds a much different point of view.

"I think it's been very, very good," said Bourgeois.

Bourgeois has been operating her store at Towne Center for six years and says while estimating future sales is not an exact science, the difference for her has been making sure she's in tune with her customers' needs.

"It's destination shopping you're not going to have as much walk by traffic as the mall but it's the customer that is looking for that particular item and they know they can come here and find what they're looking for," said Bourgeois.

The company and developer that created Towne Center will soon be bringing a similar concept to Livingston Parish with Juban Crossing and officials say there is already plenty of retailer support for a project that wouldn't open its first store until the fall of 2014.

"Right now I think they're estimating about 78 percent of the space is leased," said Parish President Layton Ricks.

Ricks says Juban Crossing has been a long time in the making but that hasn't stopped retailers from signing up.

"Most of these chains and companies that are looking to move around in different markets they've already done their homework and know what numbers are looking like  so I think most are excited about this happening," said Ricks.

Kennedy says these massive developments are geared towards chains and national retailers and the little guy is the one lost in the mix.

"Between the high lease rates and the low walk by traffic and expenses you have associated with being here particularly a small business it's very difficult to do business and stay there for any length of time," said Kennedy.

It may be lights out on his stay at Towne Center but for Kennedy it will be back to his original retail spot for a new venture come October.

"We did our best but I blame me. it just did not work out," said Kennedy. "We just pick up the pieces and move on."

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