Page One

Ross to Leave Downtown Berkeley, Joining Departure of Shoe Pavilion and The Spot

By Judith Scherr
Friday December 14, 2007

If you’re going to “dress for less,” you’ll need to spend your money in Emeryville or El Cerrito. The downtown Berkeley Ross for Less store will be shutting its doors in mid-January, according to Ross spokesperson Katie Loughnot. 

“We always review sites when the lease is up,” Loughnot told the Planet Thursday, refusing to compare the Berkeley store, located for about 13 years at 2190 Shattuck Ave., to neighboring Ross outlets. 

With The Spot, at 2175 Shattuck, and the Shoe Pavilion, at 2210 Shattuck, also planning to exit Berkeley, “we look at Ross leaving as an opportunity to upgrade” the tenant mix downtown, Economic Development Director Michael Caplan told the Planet Wednesday.  

“There will be no job loss,” Caplan added. Employees will go to other Ross stores.  

Loughnot said the closing is not a reflection on the health of the chain. “We close stores every year,” she said.  

Downtown Berkeley Associ-ation Executive Director Deborah Badhia said she was disappointed at the losses. “Ross fits a niche,” she said, whether it’s nannies out shopping or people running into the store on their lunch break for a tee shirt they’ve forgotten for their workout.  

“It will be missed,” she said, adding, “It’s a huge hit if The Spot and Shoe Pavilion leave at the same time.” 

What will replace the 40,000 square-foot store, originally a JC Penny’s, is an open question, Badhia said.  

Badhia said, because of the size of the store, the new tenant wouldn’t be an independent retailer. She pointed to the site’s advantages, noting in particular that half the population lives within one mile of the downtown. 

San Francisco-based Retail West, Inc. is the broker responsible for finding a new tenant. Retail West did not return calls before deadline. 

In a Dec. 6 report to its shareholders, Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer Jon Call said Ross is performing well. For the 10 months ending Dec. 1, 2007, Ross sales were almost $4.9 billion, a 9 percent increase over the $4.5 billion in sales reported for the 10 months ending Dec. 2, 2006.  

Call elaborated, saying the Mid-Atlantic was the strongest region “in the low double digits,” whereas the growth in California sales was 1 percent.  

Ross is a Fortune 500 publicly traded store headquartered in Pleasanton and is the nation’s second-largest “off-price” company, according to a Dec. 6 company news release. As of Dec. 1, the company operated 841 Ross stores and 52 dd’s DISCOUNTS, compared to 773 Ross and 26 DISCOUNTS the previous year. 

Economic Development Manager Dave Fogarty underscored, in speaking to the Planet Thursday, that there is some good economic news, with the opening of Green Motors in the old Cadillac dealership at San Pablo Avenue at Jones Street. The company’s website highlights the all-electric ZENN and iT cars, which they call “the perfect zero-emission solutions for around-town driving.”