The contrast on Saturday between Oconee County’s Epps Bridge Centre and the shopping centers on Atlanta Highway in Athens-Clarke County was striking.
Epps Bridge Centre was celebrating the official opening of three Gap Inc. stores, and cars filled the parking lot in front of the stores later in the day.
The parking lot in front of the closed Old Navy store in the Athens Promenade on Atlanta Highway was nearly empty.
|Gap, Old Navy, New And (Insets) Old|
(Click on pictures to enlarge them.)
At the nearby Georgia Square Mall, the display windows of the former Gap store were covered in black, and pedestrian traffic around the vacant store was light.
Across Atlanta Highway from Georgia Square Mall, Pier 1 Imports was in the final days of its closing sale, with almost nothing left on the shelves.
The new Pier 1 store at the Epps Bridge Centre is part of a row of stores with signs promoting their upcoming openings.
The contrast is likely to get even starker.
The Oconee County Code Enforcement Office issued three new interior permits on Thursday and another today for new shops coming to Epps Bridge Centre.
|Pier 1 New And (Inset) Old|
The permits are for Guitar Center, Lifeway Christian Store, Versona Accessories, all in the core of the new strip mall, and for Vitamin Shoppe in one of its outparcels.
Guitar Center has stores in the Atlanta and Macon markets, according to the company’s web site. The company is based in Westlake Village, Calif.
Versona Accessories, a women’s fashion jewelry and accessories store, has two locations north of Atlanta, according to the store web site. The company is a division of The Cato Corp., based in Charlotte, N.C.
Lifeway Christian Store has locations around the state, including in Buford and Conyers, its web site states. It is based in Nashville.
Vitamin Shoppe is a New Jersey-based retailer of nutritional supplements. Its closest store, according to its web site, is in Snellville.
The Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic, all Gap Inc., stores, make up three of the four stores in what is labeled on county plans as Building 600 at Epps Bridge Centre.
The fourth store is Children’s Place, which will fill the space behind Banana Republic.
Children’s Place also has a store at Georgia Square Mall. On Saturday, no signs at that store indicated if or when it will close.
The closest Banana Republic stores prior to the opening of the Epps Bridge Centre location were in Commerce and in the Mall of Georgia in Buford.
Both the Banana Republic and the Gap stores in Epps Bridge Centre are labeled as outlet stores. The Gap at the Georgia Square Mall was not.
Buildings 700, 400, 100
The Verona store will be located next to a Lane Bryant store in what is labeled building 700, now under construction behind the Banana Republic.
The Lifeway Christian Store and the Guitar Center are both in the L-shaped Building 400, also under construction to the east of Building 700.
Further east is Building 100, where Pier 1 is located.
A sign on the Pier 1 store window on Atlanta Highway on Saturday said the Epps Bridge Centre store will open in mid-September.
Vitamin Shoppe will be located in the building on outparcel 10. The other tenant in that building will be Sleep Number.