Monday, July 7, 1997
Crate & Barrel tops stores
on readers' shopping list

The Cincinnati Enquirer

If readers had their way, Cincinnati's downtown would be a shopper's paradise for everyone from the very rich to the rest of us.

Crate & Barrel would stand on one corner. Nordstrom's department store would occupy the next. Lord & Taylor and Marshall Field would open their doors across from Macy's and Bloomingdale's.

Liz Claiborne and Eddie Bauer would make a superstore sandwich with a Nike Town shop in between.

The Reds would play baseball at Broadway Commons. The Convention Center would double in size. Parking for the downtown Wal-Mart would be free.

And, attention Kmart shoppers, look for blue-light specials on Fourth Street.

These are the answers you gave to a recent column on downtown shopping, and the question: What would bring you downtown to shop? Many responses were passionate. Clifton's Mickey Aronoff saw downtown shopping as an aesthetic experience of browsing, buying and "the possibility for satisfying relaxation." She also wanted, "good cappuccinos on every corner."

I'll sip to that.

One answer was poetic.

"We have every ingredient to make our town world class.

"We just need to polish our brass."

Between rhymes, Sean S. Suder's fax from Landen buffed up downtown's image with Crate & Barrel and Bloomingdale's. Another suggestion: Free trollies making the rounds from the burbs to town.

Top of the Barrel

After the votes were counted, Crate & Barrel - a Chicago-based chain of handsome stores with attractive doodads for the home - topped the wish list. It beat the closest competitor, Nordstrom's, by a two-to-one margin of 40 votes to 20.

"We don't need more clothing stores or eateries downtown," observed Sandra Cohan. "We need a Crate & Barrel."

The Clifton resident does "98 percent of my Christmas shopping in New York. I'd rather do it here at a Crate & Barrel.

"Its wide price range appeals to upwardly mobile people. And it would attract shoppers from far and wide."

"People would flock here from Lexington, Louisville, Indianapolis and Columbus," said B.G. Greene of Kenwood.

"Every time I'm in Chicago, the Crate & Barrel on Michigan Avenue calls my name," said Barry Levitz of Clifton. "I always walk in and buy at least three things I don't even need."

"If Crate & Barrel comes to Cincinnati, I'll be down to spend serious money," warned Barb Foster of Dayton. "So, don't get in my way."

Alert me and I'll step aside.

M.J. Karch of Hyde Park is for Nordstrom's "as long as they sign a contract that they won't go to the suburbs."

Holly Fertig thinks Nordstrom's is too rich for Cincinnati's blood. "People would be overwhelmed. It's too grand."

The New Richmond resident believes downtown shoppers will spend more at "Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale's, a big Liz Claiborne store or Marshall Field - I love that store in Columbus, but why should I have to drive there?"

"Cincinnati's downtown shopping stinks," sniffed Donna Hennings of Anderson Township. The transplant from Chicago senses "Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom's or a Dillard's department store" would make downtown so much sweeter.

Convention Marts

If you expand it, the stores will come. That's the reasoning behind Bob Levinson's proposal to "expand the Convention Center." The Blue Ash developer insisted "it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that conventioneers spend money. This brings in businesses like Nordstrom's to downtown. Doubling the size of the Convention Center would cost less than a new stadium."

Anne Richards McFall of Mount Lookout would rather have a new baseball stadium. "Put it at Broadway Commons, and it'll increase urban housing, bring shoppers downtown and attract new stores." Wal-Mart's low prices would fit into the old Lazarus store, said Mary Fennell of White Oak. "And throw in the old garage - free parking! across the street! - as an incentive."

Alice Lance issued a gentle reminder from Covington: "Don't forget the little people." Fancy stores and restaurants and theaters "are nice." But downtown could use "a place for poor folks, too. So, put up a Kmart."

Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Available to speak to groups. Tips and comments most welcome. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.