Urban Outfitters

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Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

In late February the Texan reported that Austin’s Urban Outfitters, located on a central part of Guadalupe Street across from the University, purchased the leases of five buildings in order to expand its store. The clothing store is planning to add two restaurants and more shopping space, which it hopes will be completed in the fall. However, the lease takeover negatively affected the two of the leases, which are still in business: Manju’s and Mellow Mushroom. The stores were not able to renew their leases due to the buyout.  

The Drag, the lovingly nicknamed spot on Guadalupe Street across from the University, has been in decline since the 1980s and beloved sites have been disappearing, in particular Tower Records and Raul’s. Over the past decade the street has been become more and more decorated by corporate shops, such as Einstein's Bagels, American Apparel and, of course, Urban Outfitters.  

While the expansion may be a good thing for some shoppers, it goes directly against Austin’s famous slogan, “Keep Austin Weird”, meaning support local businesses. Urban Outfitters' expansion is eliminating Manju’s, a business that has been a staple of the Drag for almost four decades. With the expansion of Urban Outfitters, students are given more limited options on clothing shopping, forcing them to support corporations rather than small Austin businesses. 

Manju’s employee Natalie Tiner wasn’t optimistic about the buyout, either.  

“[The buyout] is definitely going to make the Drag more corporate,” Tiner noted. “Our owner has had this store for 37 years and sold directly to the students of UT. It’s been a very personal exchange, and with a corporate store coming in, it’s going to be less personal."  

Another employee, Lucie Rincones, expressed similar concerns of depersonalization.  

“We’ve had moms come in with their daughters saying that they had shopped here when they were in college...and they can’t do that anymore," Rincones said.  

With the closing of Manju's, the University community is losing a familiar staple on the Drag.   

Urban Outfitters' expansion is a troubling event for Austin’s slowly dwindling small-business community. Unfortunately, high rent and corporations have been pushing out small businesses in favor of corporations. The beloved Toy Joy was pushed out of Guadalupe Street in 2013 after the owners noted in an open letter that the “neighborhood was becoming more expensive to do business in." The store was replaced by corporate Langford Market. Urban Outfitters' expansion may not come as much of a surprise, but it is still troubling for a city that prides itself on its small businesses.  

Ultimately, the expansion is a sign of the times in Austin. As the city grows, it is losing the ability to be weird. The expansion may be seen as a good thing because it will clean up the block, but unfortunately it comes at a price. As Tiner said, “[The expansion] can construed as progress, but for the community and the people that have been here for years, it's not. It’s destructive."

Lauren Ferguson is an English and art history major from Austin. Follow Ferguson on Twitter @LaurenFerg2.

Urban Outfitters, Inc. bought out the expired leases of five stores lining Guadalupe Street. Mellow Mushroom, Texadelphia, and Manju's are amongst the popular stores that will be leaving.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Mellow Mushroom and Manju’s are leaving Guadalupe Street because of Urban Outfitters’ upcoming expansion across five neighboring stores.

Urban Outfitters bought out the leases of five stores on Guadalupe Street, including Manju’s and Mellow Mushroom. Austin-based BHF Guadalupe LLC, a business service company, owns all of these stores except for Mellow Mushroom, which the Washoe Company of Luling, Texas, owns.

“Starting in March, we will begin a renovation where we will add two restaurants, a larger selling space and some other great features,” said Andy Schmidt, Urban Outfitters store merchandiser. “We hope to be 100 percent complete with the additions by fall.”

Chase Bank’s lease did not expire in January, so Urban Outfitters’ expansion will not affect it. Urban Outfitters has bought the lease for its back parking lot, though. 

Urban Outfitters is currently applying for a wine and beer retailer’s permit with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, according to a sign posted on the abandoned Texadelphia building. The permit would allow the store to sell alcohol on its premises and require it to provide seating for customers. The company plans to expand its retail space and add areas for food and drink. 

There are no definite design plans as of yet for the expansion, Schmidt said.

“I think it’s good for the block,” Schmidt said. “It needs a little love.”

Mellow Mushroom manager David Torres said the only thing he is sure of is that the restaurant’s lease will expire in June. 

Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Urban Outfitters’ expansion into alcohol and food parallels an Urban Outfitters in Brooklyn, New York, called Space Ninety 8. Described as “a unique retail concept” by its website, Space Nintey 8 offers a bar, restaurant and gallery in the same area as its retail store. Urban Outfitters currently has more than 400 stores worldwide and has a market capitalization of $5.07 billion. 

Manju’s owner, Kavita Sajnani, said she will not be able to renew her lease because of Urban Outfitters’ purchase.

“We didn’t know really what was happening until two, three months back,” Sajnani said. “We knew [BHF Guadalupe LLC was] doing something with the property, and they put the sign up next door that Urban Outfitters is applying for permits [for] the six stores down this way. [Texadelphia] has been closed for a while.”

Sajnani opened the clothing store 37 years ago with her husband after moving to Austin from India. BHF Guadalupe LLC originally told Sajnani to close at the end of February, but the company gave her a three-week extension to close out.

Aerospace engineering senior Francisca Jaramillo has been working at Manju’s since last May. She applied for a job at Tyler’s when she heard Manju’s was closing, but said she would miss Sajnani as a boss.

“I just wanted a job for the summer,” Jaramillo said. “It’s a good place to work, and [Sajnani is] really nice. She’s like a mom. She really cares about us. She treats us like daughters. She keeps snacks for us in the back, stuff like that.”

Mellow Mushroom may relocate to Round Rock, Torres said, but that move is not definite. Manju’s will not relocate unless a location near campus opens up, according to Sajnani.