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VOL. 130 | NO. 149 | Monday, August 3, 2015

Carriage Ride

Collierville’s Carriage Crossing is still reeling in retailers

By Amos Maki

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Carriage Crossing is experiencing strong leasing activity and rising sales numbers as it prepares for multinational clothing retailer H&M to open its first Memphis-area location this month.

In recent months, the Collierville lifestyle center landed the H&M store, which the Swedish retailer says it plans to open Aug. 13, an Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse and a Hickory Tavern restaurant.

Carriage Crossing is preparing to welcome international retailer H&M, which plans to open its first Memphis-area store there Aug. 13. The H&M location in Collierville will measure 19,000 square feet.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Activity at the 712,000-square-foot retail destination – located at the southeast corner of Bill Morris Parkway and Houston Levee Road in Collierville – stems, in large part, from a 2012 sale that put Carriage Crossing under local control.

Memphis-based Poag Lifestyle Centers, now known as Poag Shopping Centers LLC, and New York-based DRA Advisors purchased the shopping destination from Atlanta-based Cousins Properties Inc., which developed and opened the center in conjunction with Jim Wilson & Associates in 2005.

Danny Buring, managing partner of The Shopping Center Group LLC, said having local ownership and involvement might be the best thing to happen to Carriage Crossing since it opened 10 years ago.

“You can be the best broker in the country, but you can’t compete in a lot of ways with a guy who lives in the market,” Buring said.

Carriage Crossing officials said the sale allowed the lifestyle center to become more locally focused. Targeted marketing efforts, special programs to engage the community and the welcoming of small, locally owned tenants are part of the new strategy.

Plus, Poag Shopping Centers, widely acknowledged as the creator of the lifestyle center mall concept, brought decades of local and national retail experience to the table.

“It really has to do with the fact that we can sell our city and we’re excited about the long-term viability of Memphis,” said Josh Poag, president and CEO of Poag Shopping Centers.

Carriage Crossing has turned its focus to a local audience in recent years and has some new leasing and more shoppers to show for it.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Poag & McEwen, the current company’s forerunner, created the lifestyle center concept in the mid-1980s when it developed the Shops at Saddle Creek in Germantown.

“We have a lot of built-up trust with our tenants over 30 years, and we can go to them and say, ‘This is our hometown. We bought it for a reason and we know this better than anybody.’”

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Formerly known as The Avenue at Carriage Crossing, the center brought the open-air shopping and dining concept to Collierville – but there wasn’t much local flavor.

Cousins Properties, which managed and leased Carriage Crossing until the 2012 sale, attached “The Avenue” name to all of its large retail centers. Cousins controlled all marketing, which usually fit into a nice, corporate formula the company could use at all of its retail centers.

“At some point (Cousins’) message was getting lost and they weren’t getting traction,” Poag said.

To help gain traction at the pedestrian-friendly shopping destination, Poag Shopping Centers dropped “The Avenue” name from Carriage Crossing shortly after the purchase. The company also launched a massive landscaping overhaul to make the 60-acre lifestyle center more appealing to visitors and tenants.

In addition, Carriage Crossing also offers community-focused events such as regular concerts, an outdoor family movie series and charitable fundraisers.

“We try to do promotions that are community-involved, community-focused as much as possible,” said Timothy Steiner, marketing coordinator for Carriage Crossing.

Poag tapped Steiner for the position and praised his work promoting Carriage Crossing and its tenants. Instead of Cousins’ formulaic marketing efforts, Steiner has created marketing slogans that tie into major holidays or events and launched social media campaigns that have less of a corporate feel.

Those efforts have translated in sales rising 5 percent over the last year.

Carriage Crossing includes more than 60 tenants and 10 restaurants, including new local tenants such as Ashtoria Aesthetic & Wellness Center, Kaliflower Boutique, Learning Rx and Therapy Boutique.

“People think we’re a mall and we don’t have local stores, but we do give local business owners an opportunity,” Steiner said.

Buring said adding a mix of local tenants was an important step for Carriage Crossing that should solidify its place locally.

“In my mind they’ve allowed it to sort of morph from a lifestyle center into more of a community shopping center,” Buring said. “Part of that means smaller, local companies, and I think that is what (Carriage Crossing) needed.”

PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047