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Mike Copeland: New Central Texas Marketplace tenants; Welhous to Clifton; Branded Burger; Home storage

Mike Copeland: New Central Texas Marketplace tenants; Welhous to Clifton; Branded Burger; Home storage

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Bath & Body Works is prepping almost 6,000 square feet at Central Texas Marketplace it likely will occupy before Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the generally accepted kickoff to holiday shopping.

It already is advertising for a seasonal sales associate.

Bath & Body Works operates a store in Richland Mall, one that attracts among the largest crowds on special occasions such as Black Friday. Sales are such it expanded its space to include a companion concept, White Barn.

“There are no plans for the store location at Richland Mall to close, and they do have a long-term lease,” said Stacey Keating, spokesperson for mall ownership, CBL Properties, in an email response to questions.

Crumbl Cookies

Meanwhile, Utah-based Crumbl Cookies will open a franchised location near the Chico’s fashion store at Central Texas Marketplace, said Liz Barth, marketing director for Retail Properties of America’s western district.

Retail Properties of America manages a swath of the marketplace, including the 2,000-square-foot site Crumbl will occupy. The bakery brand has a rotating menu of cookie flavors, with this week’s including Raspberry Cheesecake, Pumpkin Roll, Chilled Cookies & Cream Milkshake and Molten Lava. Warm chocolate chip cookies and chilled sugar cookies are always on the menu. The company was launched in 2017 and now has more than 75 locations in 11 states, according to its website.

Welhous rolls to Clifton

Welhous Bikes, a shop for serious cyclists that had a five-year run in downtown Waco, has relocated to the community of Clifton.

Founder Paul Gerhardt said several factors led to his decision to depart, including the fact his lease expired and he was facing a sizable increase in his rental rate. After all, the space is located just blocks from Magnolia Market at the Silos, now undergoing a $10.4 million expansion.

Welhous’ previous location at 324 S. Sixth St. would well suit someone wanting to capitalize on the “Magnolia effect,” but was not the right fit for Welhous, Gerhardt said by email. He said he is enjoying the move to Clifton, where the chamber of commerce and the Clifton Main Street initiative come across as “very small business centric.”

He said Welhous will have a small presence elsewhere in Waco.

Branded Burger

Branded Burger, with locations in Midlothian, Waxahachie and Mansfield, has a permit to finish out a shop at 215 S. University Parks Drive.

A building permit has been issued for $350,000 in finish-out work at that location next to Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, known for its patio dining.

The Branded Burger website touts the freshness of its burgers, fries and onion rings, and notes that sandwiches are made with Black Angus beef.

Dream Home Storage Solutions

Brad Blanchard knows a good deal when he sees one. He has been part of the local retailing scene for decades, joining Pier 1 Imports straight from college, becoming a Pier 1 store manager in 1985, moving the Waco location multiple times during his management stint that ended in 2003. Remember when Pier 1 was located on Valley Mills Drive? Behind Outback Steakhouse?

Kohl’s, which arrived at Central Texas Marketplace in 2004, recruited Blanchard. He spent more than a decade in management there before moving to Tri-Supply, a retailer of home products in Temple.

“My first job in retail was as a stock guy,” Blanchard said.

Now he is applying customer service skills to his own venture. He took a sobering look at retail through the lens of online sales and decided the future looked more appealing calling his own shots.

COVID-19 convinced him he made the right decision, he said.

Blanchard and business partner Bret Mirick formed Dream Home Storage Solutions, which offers a personalized approach to storing things efficiently and attractively using cabinetry, color schemes, hardware and accessories.

For example, someone wanting to create a home office might find their services beneficial, Blanchard said. The team also is open to applying their expertise and craftsmanship to garages, closets, laundry rooms, coffee and wine bars, “any nook you might have,” he said. It is more than moving this piece of furniture there or this box of odds-and-ends here. The process includes using 3D renderings, selecting colors and ordering materials.

“Installation can last from two hours to a couple of days,” Blanchard said.

More information is available at dreamhomestorage.com.

Convention Center catering fees

Some local caterers are suffering indigestion over the Waco Convention Center’s decision to raise catering fees there from 15% to 25%. Convention center director Todd Bertka said the complaints have been noted.

The higher rate was not implemented “with a revenue increase in mind,” rather to make local charges more in line with industry standards, Bertka said by email. He said the 15% levy had grown old.

“There have been concerns expressed by a few caterers, and we are taking those concerns under consideration as the city evaluates our next steps,” Bertka said. “The city is not providing any catering services at this time.”

The Waco Convention Center is closed because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Waco businessman Sammy Citrano, owner of George’s Restaurant and an avid caterer, said the timing of the increase could not have been worse. He said dining establishments already must deal with pandemic-related obstacles that squeeze revenue, and now face paying more for the opportunity to feed guests at the convention center, whenever it reopens.

Citrano said he and others are contacting members of the Waco City Council, which approved the rate increase Sept. 1, according to a letter mailed by Bertka to those appearing on the approved list of caterers.

Caterers will pay to the city a 25% fee based on the total amount charged to the customer, according to the letter. Each caterer must submit a copy of the final invoice, along with the 25% fee, within 10 days of the catered event.

Also, Bertka confirmed the city and McLennan County are negotiating allowing potential jurors to report to the convention center once the county resumes holding trials. He said an agreement has not been finalized.

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