Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ropa Bella says sayonara to the Valley

Will return to the Park in May

After being in its Madison Valley location (2717 E. Madison St.) for only nine months, women’s clothing retailer Ropa Bella is pulling up stakes and returning to Madison Park.  In mid-May, the shop will be relocating to the space recently vacated by Maison Michel in the Villa Marina building (1928 43rd Avenue E.).   

For over 20 years, Ropa Bella had been a Madison Park mainstay (first in Arboretum Court and later in space on Madison Street now occupied by Key Bank).  But that all ended last summer, when Ropa Bella was unable to negotiate a lease renewal with its landlord.  As a result, the store—having no acceptable alternatives in Madison Park—made the move to the Valley, hoping that longtime customers would follow.   

That didn’t happen, however.  Or at least it didn’t happen to the extent necessary to keep the business running successfully, according to owner Lisa Loban.  The biggest problem, she says, was parking. Many of her customers apparently found it difficult to find parking spaces within close proximity to the new shop.  Construction along Madison related to the stormwater project didn’t help the situation much either, she adds.  If her audience wasn’t going to come to her, Loban decided, she would have to return to her audience.

The addition of another a retail shop to Madison Park is welcome news for the other store owners in the Village, according to Tina Brown of Tina’s on Madison.  She believes there needs to be a sufficient number of retail establishments in the Park to justify people coming here from other neighborhoods to shop.  This has historically been a destination shopping district, she notes, and Ropa Bella’s return gives the Village greater critical mass. Additionally, having a good retailer in the Villa Marina space, she argues, will help reinforce that block of 43rd Avenue E. as part of Madison Park’s retail core.

Dennis Daugs is principal of Lakeside Capital Management, which owns Villa Marina. He notes that the building had once been heavily retail, and he thinks it’s a plus for the neighborhood to have additional retail space in that location.  “Having Ropa Bella back in Madison Park is something I’m proud to be a part of,” he told us.

For her part, Loban is much more enthusiastic about this move than the one she made last summer.  “I’m happy to be back where I am most comfortable,” she said. Teresa [Maloney, her longtime associate] and I are looking forward to working again with our customers who we’ve been with for many years.”  To which she adds, “It will also be nice to have some foot traffic!.”

Last summer, after Sun Precautions shut down, Ropa Bella decamped, and Maison Michel vacated its space (the first time), we were considering doing a posting on how the economic vitality of the retail scene in the general vicinity seemed to be shifting toward Madison Valley and away from Madison Park proper.  We never got around to doing the story. Perhaps we were hasty in thinking it was a story at all.

Space Now Available in Madison Valley

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