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Downtown Rochester’s newest retailer is on Main Street.

Villa opened in July in the former Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center and Salvation Army offices.

Villa is an urban retailer selling both expensive footwear for sneakheads and affordable back-to-school gear. The store is vibrant, hip, beautiful and welcoming.

The store’s arrival is notable because it’s been a long time since a new clothing store opened within the Inner Loop. Midtown Plaza’s closing delivered a body blow to downtown retail.

I did a double take when I walked by. As I browsed the merchandise, a police officer stopped in to marvel at the renovation. The place was hopping with customers.

The first Villa opened as “Sneaker Villa” in Philadelphia in 1989. There are now several dozen sores, including ones in Buffalo and Syracuse. The company has a campaign called “Join the Movement.” Much of the store’s marketing is about urban revitalization and giving back to the community in the form of events and fundraisers.

Opening a store at the Liberty Pole seems like a no-brainer. You’ve got MCC students and thousands of bus riders waiting for transfers. But the MCC students could disappear if the college pulls out of Sibley. The bus riders will also go away once the Mortimer St. transit center opens. Will other development offset the loss of people on Main Street?

Let’s hope so.

One Response to Welcome, Villa

  1. August 23, 2012 at 10:43 pm Mittens responds:

    Awesome! I saw a sign on the window that a project was replacing the Salvation Army a few months ago. I assumed it was housing, but this is cool too.

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