A national retailer, rue21, will open soon at the Platte River Mall.
“rue21” offers a broad assortment of fashion trends in apparel and accessories for girls and guys. rue21 considers their stores young, fresh, and affordable.
“rue” comes from the French word for “street” while “21” represents the age that everyone wants to be, mall manager Clarine Eickoff said.
The company already operates 810 stores and is growing. There is a “rue21” in Grand Island. The company is headquartered in Warrendale, Penn. with stores in 46 states.
“rue21’ is a progressive company,” Eickhoff said, with plans in the works to open another 25 stores.
“They are a company that is completely focused on a younger market,” she said. “I believe ‘rue21’ will add additional energy and of course fill a portion of one of our much larger retail spaces.”
When complete, rue21 will occupy 4,800 sq. ft in the north end of the mall near Famous Footwear, Eickhoff said.
Construction is slated to begin immediately and the store will open in late October if all goes as planned. North Platte subcontractors will work on the project, she said.
The general contractor is Jim Wood Construction of Arkansas. Wood Construction is experienced working with the company.
The rue21 new store announcement follows last weeks announcement that Maurices temporarily relocated to a different spot in the mall while their store is getting a full remodel. Construction is to begin this week as well.
“Progressive changes are happening,” Eickhoff added, “Conversations we have had with other retailers have lead us to believe that ‘rue21’ will be a catalyst for additional retail growth. As a mall we are extremely optimistic.
The company arrives after nearly a year of negotiations with the mall owners.
“This was never a done deal at any point,” Eickoff said. “Leasing is a volatile process that requires patience, commitment and investment. When retailers such as this add options, tax revenue, and economic influence to a community, it is a huge accomplishment. Our ownership has made a very important decision for North Platte and I cannot be more pleased.”
The company was formerly known as Pennsylvania Fashions Inc.
Pennsylvania Fashions Inc., went broke in 2002 but came out of bankruptcy in May 2003 as ‘rue21 Inc.’ after voluntarily reorganizing. The new company launched an aggressive expansion program that continues 10 years later.
The company has a website but currently does not offer customers the option to shop online.
Council says 'no'
Previously, the city council declined to offer an small incentive for the store to come to town.
The council turned down a request in June 6 from the Platte River Mall for a $50,000 grant.
The vote was 6-2 against. Judy Pederson and Martin Steinbeck voted yes, provided the related construction jobs would go to local companies.
Mall Manager Clarine Eickoff told the council that it would take about $250,000 to convert the 4,800 square foot space to meet the needs of the store.
Eickoff did not name the store, but said it would sell clothes and fill a niche in the North Platte market, with sales of $1 million or so each year, which would equate to $75,000 in city sales taxes during five years.
Eickoff said the clothing store’s owners did not ask for the incentive, but she wanted to do all she could to help them choose North Platte. So, Eickoff contacted Dan Mauk, head of the Chamber of Commerce and Development Corporation, to see what retail incentives were available.
Mauk suggested Quality Growth Funds – an incentive that comes from a slice of city sales taxes.
Eickoff applied to the Quality Growth Fund citizen’s review committee a week ago, which turned her down, 3-0. Committee members Pat Keenan, Dudley Oltmans and Bob Phares made the decision, saying the store provided incomplete financial information and that the jobs that would be created would be relatively low-paying.
So Eickoff took it furhter, appealing to the council.
Pederson supported Eickoff. She said North Platte is not as powerful of a “retail (shopper’s) magnet” as it ought to be.
Mauk agreed. He said North Platte has far more travelers on I-80 but gets far less retail trade than Norfolk.
“We are missing some of the ‘flags’ that people drive to see,” Mauk said.
Councilman Larry Campbell opposed the grant. He said the company that wants to come should apply, not the Mall, and he also said he respects the committee’s decision.
“I’m not against the project, but I think we’re second-guessing the advisory committee,” he said.
Councilman Dan McGuire agreed with Campbell. He said he talked to two of the three advisory committee members.
“They were selected by the Mayor and approved by the council,” he said. “We have to go along with them.”
“Without their financial information… it’s a little bit out there for me,” Councilman Tim Barrett agreed.
But Pederson said the company meets the criteria and the community would benefit, so it’s “no-brainer” to approve the grant. Pederson noted that a similar grant was given to Gary’s Super Foods in the past, and she said the $250,000 in construction jobs would also boost the city’s economy.
But Barrett was unmoved. He said if the clothing company doesn’t come, “maybe someone else will pop up.”
“The economy is exactly popping these days,” Pederson quipped.
Barrett said would be unfair to change the procedure and overrule the review committee.
Councilman Dan McGuire called for a vote. The council agreed to end debate on a 5-3 vote, with Pederson, Michelle McNea and Steinbeck voting to continue debate.
When the council voted on the application, McNea voted with the majority, and the request was decisively denied.