Posted Online: Jan. 09, 2013, 9:55 pm

The Shoppes in RI opens new store, more on the way

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By Eric Timmons etimmons@qconline.com

An experiment to bring more retail to downtown Rock Island may prove successful.

Located in the heart of The District, The Shoppes on 2nd now has three stores, with a fourth to open soon, and two other tenants on the way. A Renaissance Rock Island project designed to incubate new retail businesses for the city, the Shoppes held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday for Good Karma Shirt Company, the latest tenant to join the development at1700 2nd Ave.

Lindsay O'Brien, who owns Good Karma Shirt Company, said she would have found it difficult to get her business off the ground anywhere else. "My rent is subsidized for the first three years and I wouldn't have been able to do this without the support from the program," she said.

Most importantly, Ms. O'Brien said customers were spending, giving her confidence her business will prosper.

In addition to subsidized rent, the tenants at The Shoppes receive marketing support from Renaissance, whose president, Brian Hollenback, said The Shoppes dovetailed with the effort to create more downtown living spaces in Rock Island.

Several new downtown apartment developments have been launched in recent years.

"The whole purpose of this is to grow our retail base in downtown Rock Island," Mr. Hollenback said.

At Wednesday's ribbon-cutting, he pointed across the street from The Shoppes to 1705 2nd Ave., where District Market, a grocery store, will soon open.

Rock Island Ald. Joy Murphy, 6th Ward, has been a proponent of encouraging more retail growth downtown.

The Shoppes can be key to growing the retail base by nursing small retailers through the difficult early stages of creating a business, she said.

In addition to Good Karma, The Shoppes also is home to Vivian's Vintage Varieties and QC Collective. The newest tenant, Zola's Gallery, should soon open its doors, Mr. Hollenback said.

There are two other pending applications from tenants for The Shoppes, which if successful would bring the six-unit development to capacity.

Renaissance Rock Island took ownership of the building that houses The Shoppes in 2011. Mr. Hollenback said the building had been vacant for about 10 years.

The Shoppes on 2nd Street are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. onSaturday and are closed Sunday and Monday.