October 25, 2013

End of an era at Boozer Shopping Center

Possibly the last original tenant of Boozer Shopping Center is moving out at the end of the year.

Fields Home Furnishings is selling off its inventory – down to the metal shelves and decorative chandeliers.

“It’s time. We had a good run,” said Susan Feldsott, who has run the store since the 1980s. Her parents, Abe and Florence Feldsott, opened the store in the early 1960s on Harden Street. They moved into the then-brand new Boozer Shopping Center, at the corner of Bush River and Broad River roads, in 1969.

“I hate to see them go,” said Jan Sottile, a Boozer employee. The shopping center, she added, is on the upswing, gaining back tenants after a rough time during the Great Recession.

“Out of 53 stores, I only have 14 stores (left to rent),” she said. That is down from about 20 openings – or a nearly 40 percent vacancy rate – a few years ago.

“That’s the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Sottile, who has worked at the center since the late 1980s.

Sottile added Fields might have been the only remaining original tenant in the center, though many have been there for decades.

The center has filled a lot of its empty spaces in the past year, adding Capital City Dance, The Shopping Bin, Halal International, Grammy & Me, Bertrams and Clear Talk. Another store, Sissy’s Furniture, will open next month.

Sottile does not have a tenant yet to replace Fields.

Meanwhile, the home-furnishing store is selling off its merchandise with discounts of 30 percent off or more on bedding, window treatments and shower curtains, Feldsott said. She said she still will take special orders – something the store was known for – for a few more weeks.

The store is closing for a variety of reasons, Feldsott said. Its lease is expiring, longtime employee Bea Collins is retiring after more than 25 years, and Feldsott is ready to move on to new opportunities, she said.

“We hate to say goodbye,” she said. “We feel a kinship to the customers. We’re like family.”

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