Downtown La Crosse retailer is moving out

Published On: Jan 31 2013 06:04:25 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 31 2013 06:07:57 PM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

A downtown La Crosse retailer is closing its doors and moving to Minnesota.

Cherry Pickers announced Tuesday it's shutting down its location on the corner of Third and Main Streets.

Cherry Pickers is the second clothing store in a row to clear out of that location, which used to house Citi Wear.

Out of Cherry Pickers' seven locations, the storefront in downtown La Crosse is one of its least profitable.

"We just kind of figured out that during the daytime hours, it's a lot of just downtown workers, which isn't necessarily our demographic. And the younger people usually come downtown later at night when we are closed," said Cherry Pickers Operations Manager Amy Seeger.

That's why Seeger said the store will close its doors for good in March and move to a mall in Mankato.

"Not many people come shopping downtown. They usually come to eat, or go to the bar or whatever. So that's been our biggest trouble down here," said Seeger.

That's a perception Downtown Mainstreet Inc. Executive Director Tim Kabat is hoping to change.

"I do feel that the retail market is strong downtown,” said Kabat. “The job is not done. You need to, on a daily basis, keep working and trying to grow the amount of pedestrian traffic, to try to grow how many people live downtown."

Despite the fact that two clothing retailers in a row have failed at Cherry Pickers' current location, Kabat said he isn't giving up hope on the storefront; it just needs the right business to move in.

“You still have a restaurant across the street and you have places for lunch, so I know there's foot traffic during the lunch hour," said Kabat.

He said more than 40 businesses have opened in downtown La Crosse in the past three years.
While many of those have been bars and restaurants, Kabat says downtown is more than just a place to eat and drink.

Seeger said the limited availability of on-street parking has also been a deterrent for shoppers. Kabat points out La Crosse is one of the only Wisconsin communities of its size to offer on-street parking for free.

Seeger also said Cherry Pickers’ downtown La Crosse location took a big hit when a similar store, Plato's Closet, moved in near the mall in Onalaska, another factor in their decision to move.