Storefronts are filling up in the Shops at Stonefield in Albemarle County. The first businesses opened there nearly two years ago. Some shops have already come and gone, and others never opened. But the developer, EDENS, is working toward filling all the empty storefronts that remain.
Brad Dumont, the vice president of development for the EDENS company, visited Stonefield Wednesday night to focus on that goal of filling the spaces, which he says will be accomplished by this time next year.
Blue Ridge Mountain Sports is bringing the outdoors inside its new store in the Shops at Stonefield. “This gives us a great opportunity to showcase a lot more product. We even have tents set up on the floor, boating areas, the rock wall we'll have ready to open in the fall,” said store manager Aaron Hammer.
Hammer and his team moved to Stonefield in March from the store's home for decades in the Barracks Road Shopping Center. “We felt we might have been missing some sales down there,” he said.
The outdoor retailer credits more open parking, an additional 4,000 square feet of floor space, and its new neighbors for attracting a mix of loyal and first-time customers.
“Every month we've been in here, we've seen an increase in foot traffic - a really nice increase - which has also given us a nice increase in sales,” Hammer said.
The nearly 2-year-old town center sometimes looks more like a ghost town. Dumont admits, “A little bit slower coming out of the recession, a little bit tougher. But we're seeing a lot more positive feedback from the retailers and restaurants, so we're excited about that.”
Dumont says Stonefield is 90 percent leased. Coming soon signs are popping up. Blue Mercury Cosmetics, a salon, Capital Teas, Press Coffee Shop, and Rocksalt Oyster Bar are all set for fall openings. “As more and more of them get here and people identify this as a place to come hang out, we're seeing sales climb every month,” Dumont said.
Hammer believes Blue Ridge Mountain Sports made the right move. “It's been growing on us,” he said. “The longer we've been here, the more we like it.”
Costco is coming to Stonefield next spring or summer along with four sections of shops along Route 29 on that side of the development. Edens will also add 100 to 120 townhomes on the back end of Bond Street near the hotel.