Locker Room by Lids to open at Towne East

WICHITA — Locker Room by Lids is coming to Towne East Square this spring on the lower level of the mall near JCPenney.

The store sells sports apparel and accessories.

Also this spring at Towne East, teen retailer Aeropostale is relocating to the upper level near Old Navy in the JCPenney wing.

“We’re excited to welcome Locker Room by Lids to Towne East Square soon,” Towne East general manager Jeffrey Runnels said in a release. “The addition of this store and renovations to existing retailers complements our already great mix of retail and dining options, providing more options for Wichita shoppers.”

New Towne West CUP almost finalized; Towne East won’t pursue one ‘at this time’

WICHITA — It looks like Simon Property Group’s application for an amendment to the community unit plan for Towne West Square is all but finalized, and nothing is happening with the one for Towne East Square.

Simon’s applications were to hold outdoor events at both malls – that could be events such as special sales or carnivals – but neighbors near Towne East fought it.

Greenhouse sales are now scheduled at both malls for April and May, and a carnival is scheduled to start at Towne West on May 8.

Previous mall management said the amendment was approved at Towne West, but that’s not the case.

“From what we understand, we just needed to submit updated drawings, and we were good to go at Towne West,” says Mis Gaston, the mall’s new general manger. “They haven’t told us anything otherwise. So hopefully that gets us over the hump.”

Since the applications were filed, management has changed at both malls.

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West-side Miracle Ear opens in new space

WICHITA — After more than twenty years inside Sears at Towne West Square, Miracle Ear now has a place of its own.

Franchisee Lora Cruse, who operates the business with her husband Monty, and son, Monty Cruse Jr., says it was time to “get ourself out there and get in front of everybody.”

The new store is at the Maple Street Mini Mall on the northwest corner of Maple and Anna, which is across from Towne West.

“We didn’t want to get too far away because that’s where our customers know we are,” Cruse says.

The new space is 1,100 square feet.

“It is probably twice as big,” Cruse says.

A bigger factor in the move is that the new space is “just easier to get to.”

“Our folks don’t have to navigate that bigger parking lot … at Towne West.”

The Cruses also have a Miracle Ear in the Sears at Towne East Square.

Possible Towne East Square CUP amendment on hold

WICHITA – Simon Property Group’s application for an amendment to the community unit plan for Towne East Square continues to be deferred, but the adjustment has been approved for Towne West Square.

Simon’s applications were to hold outdoor events at both malls, but neighbors near Towne East are fighting it.

“We’ve got it in a holding pattern right now,” says area mall manager Michael Payton.

He says there are still some details to work out.

“I’m not going to say too much about that.”

Payton says the issue will be revisited, but he can’t say when.

Burrow gaming and gift store to expand with new meeting space

UPDATED — Derrek Burrows is such a friend to geeks, he’s almost doubling the size of his gaming store for them.

The Burrow has been in 1,100 square feet at 180 S. Rock Road, which is behind Wendy’s across from Towne East Square, for a couple of years.

“We have gifts for geeks,” says Burrows, a self-professed geek.

“I am, and I have been pretty much all my life.”

The store sells games that appeal to people who are into science fiction, anime and Steampunk, among other things. There are some more traditional games as well.

Burrows also offers the store as a meeting space for groups, which is why he’s expanding into an extra 900 square feet next door.

“It’s a space that will be for hobby groups and special interest groups,” he says.

For instance, there’s a “Doctor Who” fan group that meets at the Burrow once a month.

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Neighbors oppose Simon Property Group’s request for CUP amendment to allow outdoor events at malls

WICHITA – Simon Property Group has applied for an amendment to the community unit plans for Towne East Square and Towne West Square so it can hold outdoor events at both malls, but neighbors near Towne East are fighting it.

“They want to do a bunch of things in an outdoor forum, which we think means more traffic and more trash and more noise,” says Larry Duntz, president of the Rockwood Homes Association.

“We already have a significant problem with trash … blowing over on our property that they’ve been unwilling to do anything about.”

Area mall manager Michael Payton says what’s blowing is the issue blowing out of proportion.

“This isn’t really a big deal, really,” he says. “We’re going to have a meeting with them to address this.”

Payton won’t address what events the malls would have.

“We’re not necessarily filling in the blanks on that right now,” he says.

“They’re not being very forthright with telling us what exactly they want to do,” Duntz says. “Our entire board has agreed that what they’re talking about is not a good thing.”

Vice Mayor Pete Meitzner says most other retail developments already have approval for holding outdoor events, so he thinks it makes sense for Simon, too.

“They do a lot of good things … for the community,” he says. “It would level the field, so to speak.”

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Towne West Square Lane Bryant to close

WICHITA — Almost 20 years after opening in Towne West Square, Lane Bryant is closing.

The store’s last day in business is Feb. 23.

The national chain, which specializes in plus-size women’s clothing, has had plans to close the Towne West store since a Lane Bryant opened in NewMarket Square in 2011.

Missy Meyer, manager of the NewMarket store, says there are no plans to close or move the Towne East Square Lane Bryant.

Metro Grill IV a possibility for downtown

WICHITA — At long last, Michael Gonzalez is looking to bring his Metro Grill downtown.

“Since Day 1 at the mall, they’ve been asking me to come downtown,” he says of customers from his Metro Grill stand at Towne East Square. “They’re dying for us to go downtown.”

In addition to the mall location, Gonzalez has a sit-down Metro Grill at the Waterfront at 13th and Webb Road, and another restaurateur has Gonzalez’s former Metro Grill in Andover.

The downtown location, which would be close to Cafe Bel Ami near South Broadway and East William, isn’t official yet.

“This is not 100 percent,” Gonzalez says.

He says he’s only in talks with a developer, who approached him.

“If it’s a sweet deal, I’ll take it.”

You don’t say

“It improves safety for everyone — not just individuals with disabilities.”

Brian Coon, the city’s Americans With Disabilities coordinator, regarding a plan that could allow city buses onto property at Towne East and Towne West Squares

‘Til We Meet Again further franchises and encounters its first stumbling block

WICHITA — Willow Group continues to ink franchise deals for more ’Til We Meet Again stores, but the Wichita company has also experienced its first setback.

The chain’s first franchisee was to open a custom casket store in Glenbrook Square in Fort Wayne, Ind., in May, but Willow Group’s Nathan Smith says mall management changed its mind without giving him or local media a reason.

“Glenbrook Square officials likely sealed a casket company’s fate in Fort Wayne,” read the lead of a Journal Gazette story, which was one of several stories about the issue that appeared in local media outlets.

“It was a mess,” says Smith, who is partners in Willow Group with Traci Smith-Cone.

“Honestly, it took us by surprise,” Smith says. “We do everything we can in the beginning to make sure everything is secured.”

He says the mall took five months to approve the contract.

No one with Glenbrook could be reached for comment.

Smith says the franchisee lost about $100,000 on remodeling and other expenses when told she’d have to vacate the mall five days before opening. He says the store had a contract, but there was a clause that the mall could ask the store to leave at any time.

“We definitely worked quickly with the franchisee to minimize even more loss of funds,” Smith says. “At the time, it was a scramble.”

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