Arlington Sees Retail Boom

By Mola Lenghi
|  Monday, Jul 30, 2012  |  Updated 9:00 PM CDT
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Arlington Sees Retail Boom

Arlington Highlands

There's a common theme around shopping centers in Arlington: growth.

Construction, as well as signs on storefronts that read "coming soon" and "grand opening," are common sights at the Arlington Highlands or Lincoln Square.

"Our grand opening was a success; our line was out the door," said John Calvin, owner of Clothes Mentor, a clothing store at Lincoln Square that had its grand opening last week.

"Business has been good so far," said Mandy Calvin, his wife.

"On the weekends, [The Highlands] is amazing. You can barely get in and out of here," said Elvin Like, a sales associate at Barbeques Galore.

Retailers say landmarks such as Lincoln Square in north Arlington or the Highlands on the south end or up-and-coming spots such as the University of Texas at Arlington's College Park District -- a mixed-use development scheduled to open this fall -- in downtown, are all working together.

"All those things have definitely helped us," said Pam Dawson, Lincoln Square mall manager. "We are very excited about downtown Arlington and all the things going on there. UTA went from 28,000 to 35,000 [students]; it's incredible. Great things are going on south Arlington."

But the current economic climate has presented challenges.

"It's definitely more challenging than ever before," Dawson said. "You have to think strategically and you have to plan your money well more than you've ever had to in the past, and you really have to understand your consumers.

That understanding of customers and of the current economic climate led to the recent opening of Clothes Mentor, where women can sell in-style clothing and accessories for cash.

The items are then discounted and resold.

"With our particular concept, one thing that's been particularly great for us is that you can fund your new wardrobe by selling your old wardrobe," Mandy Calvin said.

John Calvin agreed.

"It's a perfect fit," he said. "I think in this economy these stores really work."

Clothes Mentor is already opening a second south Arlington location in August.

Retailers say Arlington is unique because it's a regional draw thanks to attractions such as Six Flags Over Texas, Cowboys Stadium and Rangers Ballpark at Arlington.

Visitors are often in town catching a Rangers game or something at Cowboys Stadium, which translates into potential customers.

"Let's say someone is going to a Cowboys game, and they're coming from out of town, they're going to hang out around the area and maybe they do a little shopping with us," Mandy Calvin said.

"The crowds that come in are great for business," John Calvin said.

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