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Top 10 Chains We Wouldn’t Mind Seeing Downtown

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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Let me start off by saying that here at Columbus Underground, we are all about supporting our wonderful local, independent businesses. We encourage people to dine locally, shop locally, and invest money in the local economy. With that being said, we’re fully aware that it’s unrealistic to buy everything from a local business. There is a time and a place for everything, and many specific types of larger chain stores and restaurants can be a vibrant and essential part of our diverse urban experience.

Last year, the “Mile on High” effort was established to combat the 80,000 square feet of vacant retail space along High Street, but it’s off to a slow start. A study from last June revealed that while we have 280 stores and restaurants downtown, there is an estimated spending power to currently support 450 establishments.

We would love to see the majority of that gap filled in with local businesses, but we feel that there is room for a handful of chains as well. Below is our top 10 list of potential chain stores and restaurants that we would like to see fill in some of this empty retail space on or near the High Street corridor.

#10 – Room & Board

Room & Board is a fashionable furniture store that focuses heavily on American-made craftsmanship and social responsibility. They sell all types of home furnishings from sofas to bedding to light fixtures. And with their nearest stores in Illinois, this would make a Downtown Columbus location one-of-a-kind in the state of Ohio.

#9 – Nordstrom Rack

Nordstrom Rack is the discounted counterpart to Nordstrom. Originally operating as a clearance department, it has grown into its own brand for bargain-seeking shoppers and has over 50 locations around the US. The only Nordstrom location in Columbus is out at Easton, and the only Nordstrom rack in Ohio is just east of Cleveland. Placing this shop downtown would be a regional draw, and could also make the surrounding retail units more attractive for independent boutique shops to set up.

#8 – Apple Store

The Apple Store is very obviously a place to purchase Apple products including computers, laptops, iPhones, iPods, software, and accessories. With Apple’s consumer products surging in popularity, the Easton location is constantly overcrowded, and a secondary location would be more than welcome downtown where there is currently no place to purchase computer or electronic accessories.

#7 – CB2

CB2 is an offshoot brand from Crate and Barrel that focuses more on modern and urban style with their product range. CB2 sells all types of home decor and accessories from couches and beds to forks and spoons. Currently, CB2 only has 5 locations, all of which are in urban centers, making downtown the obvious choice for a Columbus store.

#6 – H&M

H&M is an affordable yet fashionable men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing store with locaitons all over the world. A nearby store exists at the Tuttle Mall, but it only sells the women’s clothing line.

#5 – DSW / Filene’s Basement

DSW is actually a local company, with their first store having opened in Dublin in 1991. Their parent company Retail Ventures, owns the Filene’s Basement brand as well. DSW’s large stores feature thousands of name brand shoes available at a discounted price. Similarly, Filene’s offers thousands of name brand men’s and women’s clothing items at a discounted price. Several successful DSW stores operate near Easton, Polaris, and Dublin, with the Dublin location being a joint store with Filene’s Basement. Adding a new downtown location would serve not only the central city, but also would be a closer location for the entire south side of Columbus.

#4 – In-N-Out Burger

If it’s possible for a fast food chain to have a cult following, then In-N-Out Burger has achieved just that. Founded in California 60 years ago, no locations exist outside of the west and south-western states. In-N-Out has often been praised for their use of fresh, local ingredients as well as their employee-centric business practices. If a Downtown Columbus location were to open, we predict that they’d have a lunch line wrapping around the block every day for at least the first year.

#3 – Target

Somehow, Target has mostly managed to avoid the negative connotations that typically plague the big-box corporate concept. Perhaps it’s the fact that they aim to sell slightly more upscale merchandise than competitors like Wal-Mart or K-Mart. Perhaps it’s their brighter stores and hipper advertising image. Perhaps it’s their continuous philanthropic efforts. Whatever it is, it seems to be working, and the idea of bringing multi-story urban Target store (similar to their flagship store in downtown Minneapolis) into downtown Columbus has constantly made appearances on nearly everyone’s wishlist.

#2 – Trader Joe’s

Downtown has got a bit of a grocery problem, and Trader Joe’s is often cited as the solution to those woes. While the residential population Downtown has not quite reached the critical mass needed for a full-sized Kroger or Giant Eagle, Trader Joe’s offers the option of bringing a smaller store into our urban center. Trader Joe’s is often praised for their environmental-minded business practices, and their health-concious store-brand products.

#1 – IKEA

It’s not going to happen anytime soon, but it doesn’t mean that we still can’t hope that someday IKEA will need a second Ohio store, and that it might somehow wind up in Downtown Columbus. When the news broke nearly three years ago that IKEA was considering an Ohio store, many on CU who were tired of driving all the way to Pittsburgh for their fix were quick to cross their fingers that it would wind up in Columbus. In the end, West Chester (a Cincinnati suburb) was chosen as the site for the first Ohio IKEA, but every once in awhile you can still hear someone mentioning how much they would have loved to have it in our own back yard.

What other stores and restaurants would you like to see open up Downtown?

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