FAIRFIELD, California — Sears, Rasputin Music and Payless Shoe Source were among the businesses that closed their stores at the Solano Town Center in Fairfield. But, even as some stores close their doors, this local mall has been busy rounding up new businesses to take their place. 

Things Remembered, Charlotte Russe, and Sears were familiar sights at the mall, however, when those closed down, the mall saw it as an opportunity to bring something else that resonated with their city.

“Retail is not a static business. Places close [and] places open,” said Sidney Sweeney, marketing director for the Solano Town Center and Starwood Retail Partners, which owns the mall.

“People like to say that brick and mortar is dying. It is not. It’s absolutely not," she added.

What new businesses are coming to the Fairfield mall?

While old businesses are gone, their buildings still remain. For Starwood Retail Partners, those buildings are an opportunity to bring in a new mix of local and national tenants.

In place of the older brands, they’ve got Juicy Fruit, +82 Korean BBQ, Miniso, BoxLunch, Trading Post, Virtual Framing, Toy Plaza, Crave, and Seventh Sense Botanical Therapy.

Solano Town Center's Sears was one of more than 100 stores that were closed by the company in 2018, however, the local mall rebounded by getting a Dave & Buster’s, which is expected to open by winter.

“Again, Sears is an older brand, and the need that it was filling obviously wasn’t there anymore. It wouldn’t have closed if the sales were incredibly high volume,” Sweeney added.

How do cities get new businesses to come into town?

“It’s not just about our reaching out to a company’s development team and our saying, ‘Hey, we have a space. Come on in,’” Sweeney said. “There’s a lot more behind the scenes that takes place.”

A request to speak with the City of Fairfield’s Economic Development team on bringing in new businesses was not returned, however, Sweeney did say that the city does have a role to play.

While a business can pick certain areas to develop a new store, it doesn’t hold all the autonomy. Sometimes, it’s necessary to work with city officials to get that business approved.

“There are certain types of companies that the city might not approve, and, if we want them, we might have to work with the city so that they understand why this sort of business is going to be good for the city…,” Sweeney added. 

Some of the other ways the mall is adding to their stores is with their “Pop-up marketplace” which lets local crafters, vendors, and makers rent a spot to sell their products on the weekend. The “Battle of the Pop-ups” is an idea that allows the winning businesses to come into the mall rent-free for a few months and also helps the business can get off the ground.

“That’s helping to drive that local interest and it encourages people to come on down and buy locally not always to turn the internet first,” Sweeney said.

“It’s not just a place where people come to shop anymore," she added. "It’s a place where the community actually comes, so the name Solano Town Center really is what it is. It’s where people are coming.”

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