Reverse migration: Some Topsy Lane businesses finding lease deals in Carson City
A handful of small retailers from the Topsy Lane shopping center have relocated to Carson City locations in recent weeks, most to the Carson Mall, largely in search of lower rent as economic pressures continue to put the squeeze on business.
While Realtors say shopping centers across the country are facing an increase in vacancies as pressures on the commercial real estate market continue to manifest, some locations in Carson City, especially the Carson Mall, are luring retailers with significantly lower rents and other benefits such as free advertising and events to attract customers.
Karen Holmes, who owns It’s All About Me Fine Clothing, recently moved her business to the Carson Mall after spending two years at Topsy Lane where she shared a store with her friend and business partner, Nanette Toland, owner of Nono’s Sweet Repeats, a home decor and consignment shop.
“The mall people are working really hard to get businesses in here and they make it very affordable for the business owner, it’s much more expensive on Topsy,” Holmes said. “And there is a lot more foot traffic here.”
Andie Wilson, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Commercial in Carson City, said rent prices are “the name of the game” in today’s shaky commercial real estate market.
“(Topsy Lane locations) are some of the highest in our submarket,” Wilson said. “The Carson Mall, they’re super competitive right now.”
The shopping center just south of Carson City was constructed and financed near the peak of the real estate boom, which is likely having an effect on the price of rent for its tenants, Wilson said. Meanwhile, other commercial locations in Carson City are older, but usually have lower or no debts that affect rent prices.
Kevin Ray, property manager for the Carson Mall, said he is offering discounted leases to businesses looking to relocate, so far attracting three businesses from Topsy Lane, including Home Treasures, It’s All About Me Fine Clothing and Bellissimo, which is slated to open its mall location soon.
“What’s happening, many small retailers that were originally in Douglas County are finding that Carson Mall is able to offer them better leases, lower rent and we have a really good retail climate here in Carson City,” Ray said.
After three years in his location, Tim Ghan, who owns a Farmers Insurance Group agency, moved his business from Topsy Lane to a new Carson City office in February.
Ghan, who lives in Douglas Country, said the Topsy Lane location made it easy on him, but moving his business into Carson City has helped.
Ultimately, the decision to move boiled down to seeking lower rent costs.
“First you get into it, they don’t want to adjust, a few left before that,” Ghan said. “It’s a business decision, you gotta look out for yourself and your business.”
Toland, who used to share her store with Holme’s clothing store, still holds the lease on the Topsy Lane location near Trader Joe’s and said there are no hard feelings between she and her former business partner who left for the mall earlier this year.
“It made sense for her business,” Toland said.