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CRENSHAW : Will New 'Gap' Help Boost Sales at Mall?

July 18, 1993|ERIN J. AUBRY

A Gap store is under construction at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, a sign to some that the mall is on the upswing after struggling to attract major stores since opening three years ago.

"I'm glad it's here," said mall manager Glen Clark, who said the store is expected to open by Sept. 1. "I'm hoping other chains will pay attention now and watch the Gap's success."

The plaza has three anchor stores--Sears, Robinsons-May and the Broadway--but most of its other tenants are small, independently owned stores. National retailers have been slow to join since the mall opened, but in the past year, See's Candies and the Disney Store have opened outlets there.

The Gap, which has 788 stores in the United States and is the nation's second-largest clothing label, began construction of the 10,000-square-foot store a month ago on the mall's lower level.

Although the popular clothing store is a significant development for the mall, a Gap spokeswoman declined to comment on why the chain decided to move in at this time. Clark said the Gap had been in negotiations with the mall "on and off" for the last two years.

Clark expects the store to do well, though he is not looking for it to single-handedly lift the plaza out of its economic doldrums.

"A lot of people said the booming business of the Lucky store 'saved' the mall," he said. "That's not true. If it hadn't been Gap, it would've been someone else coming in. They certainly won't be the last. "

Southwest Los Angeles resident and restaurateur Gerald Richardson said the Gap would give the plaza an edge over the nearby Fox Hills Mall in Culver City, which saw its Gap outlet close two years ago.

"I would rather see a Gap in the mall than another one of those Italian-name stores with overpriced stuff," said Richardson, who owns L.A. Hot Wings in Ladera Heights.

And one well-heeled Windsor Hills resident who attended a recent community meeting greeted the news with a mix of relief and exasperation. "This is a good development," she said, "but I'm still looking for Bullock's or Ann Taylor."

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