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Charleston Town Center set to open three new stores

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Charleston Town Center officials have signed new deals to welcome three new retailers to the downtown shopping mall.

Mall marketing director Lisa McCracken said Friday construction is under way on the new Express, Zumiez and Teavana stores.

All three new stores are expected to open in the first half of 2013, timed to coincide with the mall's 30th anniversary celebration this year.

Express, which sells clothing and merchandise targeted at the 20- to 30-year-old demographic, is no stranger to mall customers.

The store occupied various locations throughout the mall between 1985 and 2006.

However, in 2006, Express corporate owner Limited Brands decided not to renew the store's lease with the mall as part of a corporate decision to downsize their retail operations.

Limited sold off the Express brand to a private equity firm in 2007. In 2010, the investors took the company public in a $272 million initial public offering.

Headquartered in New York and Columbus, Ohio, the Express continues to stand alone as its own corporate entity.

McCracken said when retailer Abercrombie & Fitch made the decision last year to close its only West Virginia store, Express seemed like a natural fit to take its place.

"They've had a history at the Charleston Town Center in the past 29 years, but this will be a brand new, beautiful Express retail store," she said. "Everybody will be happy to hear that, because we all love to shop at Express."  

In addition to taking over the Abercrombie & Fitch space, Express also plans to expand into the second-story location once occupied by the Lids hat store. The expansion will give the new store more than 8,200 square feet of retail space.

In turn, Lids will move across the center court overlook to the 1,400 square foot store once occupied by the Journey's Kidz store.

The move to the new location will nearly double Lids' retail space, something McCracken said is a good because the store has been performing well in recent years.

"The Lids store will be much bigger and have much more inventory," she said. "And they've just signed and renewed a 10-year lease for this new expanded space."

Zumiez is also currently under construction in the space once occupied by the 5-7-9 store.

The Seattle-based board store specializes in marketing "cutting edge clothing, footwear, accessories, DVDs, hard goods for skate and snow for active lifestyles," according to the company's website.

McCracken said the store will sell quality apparel and skate and snowboarding hardware aimed at the teenage demographic.

"It is a hip, cool store," she said. "It's going to be a high school boy's dream come true - they're going to love this store."

She said mall owners had been working for several years to get the West Coast-based company to open a store in West Virginia.

McCracken said the mall enlisted the public's help to get the store to come to the state.

Mall officials made a deal with Zumiez - if they could get 2,012 signatures on a petition, the store would commit to opening a store in the state in 2012.

Within a couple of months, mall officials got the needed signatures and, while it may not be 2012, the new Zumiez store will open by the end of the first quarter of this year.  

"The community helped us recruit that Zumiez store - I think that's just great," McCracken said.

Officials have also signed a new lease to bring West Virginia's first Teavana specialty tea shop to the space formerly occupied by Frontier Communications.

Founded in Atlanta in 1997, Teavana was bought by Starbucks for $620 million in late 2012.

"Starbucks said we want to make Teavana to tea drinkers what Starbucks is to coffee drinkers," McCracken said.

In addition to tea and tea accessories, Teavana will also carry a line of pastries, cheesecakes and other assorted treats.

McCracken said the new 1,400-square-foot location will feature tables and chairs to allow customers to sit and eat or work at the store.

With the brand owned by Starbucks, McCracken said the Teavana location would be a nice alternative for those looking for the Starbucks experience but with a little less caffeine.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at or 304-348-4836.



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