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Guitar Center to open in Manchester on South Willow Street

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 18. 2018 10:31PM
Guitar Center is taking over some of the space previously occupied by Sports Authority on South Willow Street in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — A strip mall is switching from sports gear to shiny Gibson guitars.

Guitar Center is opening in the former Sports Authority store at 1051 S. Willow St. on March 1.

And another national retailer is close to signing a lease to open in the space next to Guitar Center by year’s end.

“It should be a tenant that shoppers will enjoy quite much,” said Andy Silberfein, managing partner of Connecticut-based Centerco Manchester LLC, which owns the shopping plaza.

Luring tenants was a combination of plaza facade upgrades and geography.

“A combination of the location, the traffic, the visibility, the accessibility and the amount of capital we reinvested in the property enabled us to attract such a good roster of tenants,” Silberfein said.

Guitar Center will occupy about 12,000 square feet. Party City last year took up additional square footage following the exit of Sports Authority in 2016 when the sporting goods retailer was liquidated following its bankruptcy filing. Petco also is a longtime tenant in that same plaza.

Guitar Center will hire 15 to 20 people to staff the store, which will include guitars, amplifiers, percussion instruments and keyboards, DJ equipment as well as lighting and recording equipment.

“We feel that the new location in Manchester is ideally located to serve our overall customer base and complement the already rich atmosphere of musicianship in the area,” said a company spokesman who didn’t want to be identified.

Guitar Center already operates stores in Nashua and Portsmouth. The Manchester grand opening runs from 7 to 9 p.m. March 1.

Guitar Center has “invested a large amount of money in their space,” Silberfein said. “They enjoyed good sales in their neighboring locations, and they have high hopes for this property.”

The owner of Manchester Music Mill, 329 Elm St., welcomed the national retailer locating 2 miles away.

“I think it’s good for the musicians in the area overall,” Joe Lacerda said. “There are some things they (Guitar Center) bring into town that we can’t do, and I think overall it will be better for us as well.”

He expects to piggyback on the competition.

“They have a huge marketing power to get people into the area, so there’ll be a lot of new customers that may never have heard about us” and will stop by his store, Lacerda said.

Lacerda said he expects some Guitar Center shoppers in Nashua will visit the Manchester store instead and check out Manchester Music Mill as well.

“I feel it’s a win for us,” he said.

Lacerda said his store already needs to be competitive with Guitar Center in Nashua as well as websites selling music equipment.

Silberfein said the other retailer would occupy about 14,500 square feet. The entire plaza measures more than 63,000 square feet.

Filling the Sports Authority space wasn’t easy.

“The difficulty is you had a large box, and you had to find three tenants where the size fits within the box. And that is not easy,” he said.

Dan Scanlon, senior associate at the real estate company Colliers International, said there is less demand for space to house big-box retailers.

“I think demand in general is for the smaller spaces,” he said.

Business Manchester

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