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Specialty kitchen retailer Williams-Sonoma to depart Toledo

Williams-Sonoma, the upscale kitchen and specialty foods store that headlined the opening of Franklin Park Mall’s expansion in May 2005, announced it will close come mid-January.


The Williams Sonoma store in the Franklin Park Mall, which opened in 2005, is closing in mid-January.

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On in-store signs and a message on the store’s Facebook page Thursday the retailer thanked customers and apologized for any inconvenience caused by the closing. It directed customers to patronize its nearest store in the Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“It comes with great sadness that we are announcing the closure of the Franklin Park location. …Please stop in to shop with us one last holiday season,” the Facebook message read. The mall’s Pottery Barn store, also is owned by Williams-Sonoma Inc., of San Francisco, is unaffected.

Casey Pogan, a spokesman for Franklin Park, which is owned by Starwood Retail Partners, said the mall “will miss the store’s unique mix of products and cooking classes.” Starwood will re-lease the space and announce plans once they are finalized, she added.

When Williams-Sonoma agreed to come to Toledo in May 2004, it was considered a retailing coup for the mall’s then-owner, Westfield America, Inc., which was seeking tenants to fill a new expansion wing.

There had been decades-long unsuccessful attempts to lure Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn, both considered premier retailers, to the Toledo area. The mall’s former owners, the Rouse Co., tried and failed for years to convince the two chains to sign a lease.

The signings convinced other upscale retailers, such as Coach purses and Swarovski crystal, to come to the mall.

Recently, Williams-Sonoma has been expanding its online retailing and adding furniture and furnishings to new or upgraded Williams-Sonoma Home stores. In March, company CEO and President Laura Alber told Wall Street analysts that the retailer had reviewed its 234 stores and planned to optimize top performing stores while closing under-performing stores.

“As stores continue to come up for lease expiration, we will have the opportunity to close or re-position those that don't meet our standards,” she said.

Pete Shawaker, a commercial Realtor at the Reichle Klein Group, said the Franklin Park store may have been hurt by online shopping — an option that Williams-Sonoma has devoted a sizeable investment to improving. Also, “I think that high-end customer isn’t going to the mall as much as they used to,” he said.

Mr. Shawaker added that the mall now emphasizes youth apparel and no longer may have been a good fit for Williams-Sonoma. “I think a Williams-Sonoma would do well at a Levis Commons,” he said.

Sam Zyndorf, a commercial real estate agent at Signature Associates, agreed Levis Commons might have been a better fit. “...But in today’s retail environment, are they going to spend the money to fix up a new store in Levis? I doubt it,” he said.

Despite Williams-Sonoma’s decision, upscale retailers still are interested in Toledo, Mr. Zyndorf said. “There are some desirable high-end retailers looking at Toledo right now. They want to know what’s going on with downtown. Toledo is piquing some people’s interest,” he said.

Contact Jon Chavez at or 419-724-6128.

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