Coming Soon

May 1, 2007
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Retail expert Bill Bussey's predictions for upcoming national retail launches in West Michigan

Class of 2007

Texas-based pizza buffet chain Cici's Pizza is the nation's fastest growing pizza chain. The 4,200-square-foot gourmet pizza store will almost certainly arrive in West Michigan in the coming year. Nationally recognized Michigan bakery/café chain Grand Traverse Pie Co. is developing a Grand Rapids franchise. Steakhouse chain Texas Roadhouse could launch up to three locations.

Bet On It

There are far more hunters and fishermen within an hour's drive of Walker than Dundee. In the midst of an aggressive expansion campaign, Cabela's will locate a new store somewhere in West Michigan

"People right now will only go there (Cabela's) once or twice a year," said Bussey. "They're not buying most of their stuff there, so the company is missing out."

As evidence, look no further than the recent addition of Camping World and new Dunham's Sports and Dick's Sporting Goods stores.

Also, expect Wal-Mart to begin converting its existing stores in Meijer country to Wal-Mart Supercenters. And one existing chain barely visible in the region, Dairy Queen, is expanding its revived restaurant concept.

The arrival of the region's first lifestyle center will bring with it niche and destination retailers such as the black and white store and P.F. Chang's Chinese Bistro. Another possible, but less likely, lifestyle center tenant is The Cheesecake Factory.

Down The Road

Discount retailers Stein Mart, which has a Kalamazoo location, and Hibbet Sports would do well in Grand Rapids and will both eventually have a presence, Bussey said. Hibbet Sports has yet to branch into the state, but is in Ohio and Indiana

Fast-food operation Sonic Drive-In should also make its way into Michigan in the near future.

Outside Possibility

Although rumored as a potential lifestyle center tenant, Whole Foods Market could be several years away.

"Their typical market is a place like Ann Arbor — people who are into organic stuff, make money, that kind of lifestyle. … But Grand Rapids is evolving," Bussey said.

Nope

Niche fast-food restaurants such as Jack in the Box and WhiteCastlewon't reach West Michigan for a long, long time. Other niche concepts, such as Wahoo's Fish Taco, could launch here eventually if a franchisee is found.

Most metropolitan retail destinations are also a generation away.

"Everybody says they would like to see a Saks Fifth Avenue, but we're not big enough," Bussey said. "I would love to see an IKEA, but I think they're looking for bigger markets."

If these operations were to develop a smaller suburban concept, a la The Apple Store, West Michigan would be first in line.     CQ

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