Original Westroads store The Afternoon leaving mall but not Omaha

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Posted: Saturday, January 4, 2014 12:00 am

One of Westroads Mall's original stores will close next week.

The Afternoon, which sells gift items such as art, jewelry, housewares, books and games, will close its Westroads location on Friday to focus on its midtown store at 3157 Farnam St. in Midtown Crossing.

“It's been a wonderful experience being here, but Westroads and The Afternoon are really moving in different directions,” said Marie Clifford, president of the family-owned retailer.

“I think our fit is more in the Midtown area, which is trendy, new and exciting. We're very pleased about this,” she said, adding that the store's customers are more concentrated in midtown.

Westroads Senior General Manager Jim Sadler said the store was one of the mall's original retailers. “It's like anything, things change. But absolutely, we hate to see them go,” he said.

The vacancy will accommodate the mall's addition of H&M, Sadler said, by making room for stores that will be relocating to make way for the Swedish apparel company's first Nebraska store.

The Afternoon opened at Westroads in the early 1970s. The only other original, nonanchor store that Clifford said is still located at Westroads is Merle Norman Cosmetics Studio.

Sales did not drop off at the Westroads store after opening in midtown three years ago, Clifford said. “The markets are very different, so it actually did not seem to do that.”

The Afternoon's CEO, Peter Massey, said the move is “a chance to invent ourselves in a place that has such dynamism, a real renaissance area of the city that, I think, could become a leading part of the city.”

Massey has been with The Afternoon for 10 years, Clifford said. “Peter worked in the company when he was 15 as a stock boy,” she said. “Like our returning to the midtown area, which is where we started, Peter returned to The Afternoon after many years.”

The Afternoon originally opened as an art gallery in 1962 near 40th and Farnam Streets. The Afternoon also has a store at the Mall of America near Minneapolis; it opened in 1994. Clifford said there are no plans for that location to close.

In Omaha, the plan now is for The Afternoon to expand its offerings at the Midtown Crossing store, adding more gourmet kitchen items, books, cards, gift bags and year-round gift wrapping, Clifford said. “We discovered that Midtown Crossing shoppers have a great demand for gift wrap and gift bags. We're going to carry more of those and more cards as well.”

More than anything, Clifford said, she is excited about the change ahead. “Any new challenge is exciting.”

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