April 18, 2013 from The Ann Arbor News [annarbor.com]

By Lizzy Alfs

Tricho Salon & Spa plans to consolidate its two locations in Briarwood Mallin the coming months, filling a long-vacant space near MC Sports, said Briarwood Mall’s Denise Murray.

It’s part of a series of changes happening at the 1-million-square-foot shopping center, at the corner of Interstate 94 and South State Street and anchored by JCPenney, Macy’s, Sears and Von Maur.

“As long as I’ve been here, the (new Tricho) space has never been occupied. It has been (vacant) maybe 12 years,” said Murray, the mall’s Director of Marketing and Business Development.

At 6,242 square feet, the consolidated Tricho location will expand its spa services and hours. It will include an exterior entrance, and the two existing salons will remain open until the new location is completed this fall.

“They’re doing a complete build-out and it’s going to really add a lot to that end of the shopping center to have that space functional again,” Murray said.

Murray declined to comment on what stores will fill Tricho Salon & Spa’s old spaces. One location includes an exterior entrance near JCPenney.

In addition to Tricho’s announcement, four new stores opened at Briarwood this spring: Soma Intimates, Vera Bradley, Perfect Fit and Warm Tidings Gifts and Decor.

Luxury lingerie boutique Soma Intimates opened its first Washtenaw County location in early April in the Sears wing of Briarwood. The Ann Arbor store has job openings for three sales positions, according to the company website. The brand operates 210 boutiques in the U.S., including stores in Novi and Troy.

Vera Bradley, an Indiana-based design company known for its colorfully patterned products, opened a 3,000-square-foot store adjacent to Soma Intimates on April 5.

A men and women’s tailoring store, Perfect Fit, opened in March in an 894-square-foot space near Sears.

Warm Tidings Gifts and Decor, a Michigan-based gift store, opened in a 1,200-square-foot space near JCPenney. Among its inventory: WoodWick candles, lodge-themed home accessories, twinkle and rice lights, framed prints, fabric accessories and country furniture. The store also sells a variety of custom made items designed by its co-owners, Michael Stang and Vern Coffman.

“We produce country and traditional gift and decor items for accounts throughout the nation,” Stang said in a statement. “We love what we do and are humbled with the growth of our business.”

In addition to store openings, Michael Kors, LUSHcosmetics and Yankee Candle are renovating space and preparing to open in the mall. Designer retailer Michael Kors is tentatively scheduled to open on April 25.

Meanwhile, Stride Rite is closed temporarily for renovations.This Briarwood Mall entrance is being renovated but a portion of it will remain open for shoppers.

The retail changes come shortly after Briarwood Mall unveiled a renovation plan, which includes new entrances, energy efficiency upgrades, fresh paint, renovated restrooms, a revamped children’s play area and additional seating in center court.

Murray said the guest services desk moved from center court, opening a space for another food user.

“That’s becoming like a mini food service area,” she said.

She said the restrooms near Macy’s are being overhauled, and the new play area has been ordered. Once the new play area is installed in the Von Maur corridor, the old one will be removed. Work is starting this week on the mall entrance near California Pizza Kitchen, although a portion of the entrance will remain open for shoppers.

“We’re seeing traffic here,” Murray said. “We’ve had different people stating they hadn’t been to the mall in years and have come back because of the stores that have been opening.”

The changes at Briarwood come as Ann Arbor’s retail landscape is growing; Nordstrom Rack opens this week in Arborland, and Arbor Hills on Washtenaw Avenue is preparing to open with more than 20 tenants this summer.

AnnArbor.com freelance reporter Angela Smith contributed to this report.

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