After 18 years of providing Lower Greenville with an award-winning assortment of "cool stuff for cool people," Lula B's Antique Mall will be closing its doors at 2004 Greenville Avenue effective April 1 leaving one less retail destination in the area. But before you get too misty-eyed, the shop and its dealers will be moving Lula B's vast collection of vintage apparel, vinyl records and retro home furnishing to 2639 Main Street in Deep Ellum.
And, no, this is not an elaborate April Fools' Day joke according to Lula B's co-owners Mary Ann Kaylor and Patrick Springer, who tell Unfair Park they've been considering the move ever since the shop branched out back in October with the opening of the larger Lula B's West on 1010 Riverfront Boulevard, where, they say, the sister store's receipts promptly equaled, and then exceeded, those of the original Greenville location.
But with all the work spent opening, and filling, the 12,000 square feet of space at Lula B's West, the co-owners said the plan to move the original shop was put on the backburner. But when the shop's landlord asked Lula B's to sign a five-year lease agreement that included a substantial rent increase, that was that.
"We were either going to have to close or find a new spot," Springer says this morning. "We were absolutely not going to sign the new lease."
Before Kaylor and Springer bought Lula B's about five years ago from the original owner (who had named the shop after his mother), they had both been dealers with the shop for about 10 years.
"We know that some people will be disappointed," Springer says. "A lot of people will feel like we're moving an institution, but, really, retail is just dying on Greenville. We're one of the last ones left."
And while the raise in rent and the area's short supply of retail destinations played some part in the decision to move, the limitations of the original Greenville location had prompted the co-owners to start scouting for a new spot.
"We've had all sorts of issues in the old building," Springer says. "The roof had to be repaired, there have been termites in the past, and, every time it rains, we have water that seeps in the back, so that whole area back there is unrentable."
Perhaps the biggest flaw with the original location is quite evident to anyone who has ever circled the block trying to find a parking spot.
"We only have five spots out front," Kaylor says. "And it's always been a struggle to find parking."
So, as co-owners who started out as dealers, finding a new building with a good number of designated parking spots and plenty of space for customers and dealers to load and unload was of the utmost concern. Which is why, before the rent increase prompted the decision move, Springer says they had scoped out other spots around town, including a few locations further up Greenville Avenue, one spot on Ross and an Elm Street address in Deep Ellum.
"We'd been looking a various places," Kaylor says. "But, this location had its own parking lot, and there's an area out front for loading and unloading that's perfect. And it's going to be cleaner and a lot easier to get around in. Plus there are a lot more retail businesses, and a lot of residents down there too."
Neither Kaylor nor Springer are too worried that Lula B's would lose much business from the move. "Our customers are very loyal and they already shop both stores," Kaylor says.
Springer agrees: "I think our business will be even better because there are so many people who drive by now and give up because of parking."
Lula B's Web site has already been updated reflecting the move, despite the fact that the new location still needs a good deal of work. Just see the photo. Still, they're expecting to be opened by the second week in April.
"The move will be good for us and for Deep Ellum," Kaylor says. "We'll have lots of neighbors that people can also shop like Century Modern or places to visit like AllGood Cafe, where, now, it's either the bars or Lula B's."