LAS VEGAS - The International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual convention provides an interesting perspective on our own local retail scene.
Developers for every major project in progress or planned around the East Valley are here trying to sign up top shops. Deals are done in the massive leasing hall and in suites at virtually every hotel on the Strip.
Our own civic cheerleaders are among those hoping to attract coveted retailers. Chandler manned one of the 875 booths in the leasing hall to promote itself. Gilbert, Scottsdale, Tempe and Phoenix officials are here, too.
They have plenty of competition. About 1,500 municipalities are trying to woo tax-generating developments.
Convention organizers picked the hottest shops for 2005, and Valley shoppers have access to all of them.
Four of the sizzling handful — Apple Stores, Coach, White House/Black Market and Williams-Sonoma — are conveniently located in East Valley shopping centers. The fifth — Steve & Barry’s University Sportswear — is a short drive away at Desert Sky Mall in Phoenix.
Westcor, which is in Las Vegas trying to fill up the future SanTan Village in Gilbert, announced a bunch of stores that just opened or will soon at existing malls.
Ann Taylor Loft and Tilly’s opened at Paradise Valley Mall.
At Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix, restaurant-dance club — io — is juicing up for a June opening. This Little Piggy Wears Cotton expects to open in summer.
Torrid snuck open at Superstition Springs Center in Mesa.
Carvel and Villa Pizza are satisfying cravings at Chandler Fashion Center. Coming soon to Chandler is Under Armour, an athletic clothing store.
Among the coolest retailers at the convention is Scottsdale-based Cold Stone Creamery.
Tucked in a far corner of the convention center, the Cold Stone booth is packed all day with conventiongoers looking for samples. A few booths away, rival Dippin’ Dots is empty.
In the first two days of the three-day convention, Cold Stone gave away more than 12,000 samples of ice cream and 1,000 slices of ice cream cake.
At last year’s convention, Cold Stone was approached with 300 potential store sites. Half of those turned into franchises, and another 70 to 75 may still be built, said spokesman Kevin Donellan.
This year the company hopes to pick up 500 potential sites from the event, he said. That would put Cold Stone well on the path to opening its second 1,000 stores.
The company just opened its 1,000th store a few weeks ago.
If you have a new shop to tell us about or you see activity at a retail location and are wondering what’s happening, let us know.