Chapel Hill green retailer Twig is closing

Twig, a Chapel Hill retailer of eco-friendly goods, is closing at the end of the year. The store is holding a liquidation sale starting on Dec. 7.
Twig, a Chapel Hill retailer of eco-friendly goods, is closing at the end of the year. The store is holding a liquidation sale starting on Dec. 7. File photo

Chapel Hill is losing another local retailer in the Blue Hill, or Ephesus-Fordham, district.

Twig, which sells environmentally sustainable and fair-trade goods, announced on Tuesday it would not be renewing its lease at the Village Plaza shopping center on South Elliot Road.

Owner Shawn Slome, 64, said he has decided to retire rather than sign a new lease at the shopping center. Slome, who has run the store since 2007, said Village Plaza owner Regency Centers offered him another space in the shopping center, but he didn’t feel the price was worth the move.

“They offered to relocate me to one of the new spaces, but it didn’t make sense for me,” he said. “(The rent) would be 40 percent more. I could’ve made it work but it is not something I wanted to go into. I didn’t want to start over again and worry about making rent ... there was more downside than upside.”

The store will have a liquidation sale starting Thursday, Dec. 7, Slome said.

Twig is the latest of a number of locally-owned stores to close in the Ephesus-Fordham district, a 190-acre district where the town wants to encourage redevelopment. Construction in the district that meets established guidelines is not subject to Chapel Hill Town Council votes or public hearings.

Longtime jeweler Grimball Jewelers, which is also located in Village Plaza, is closing at the end of the year, its owner said last month. Grimball, like Twig, had a short-term lease with Regency that expired at the end of the year.

Regency Centers, along with several other developers, have attempted to rebrand the district as the Blue Hill District, part of an ongoing effort to make the area a commercial and residential destination.

Developers have put more than $125 million into new development in the Blue Hill District in the past three years, which now has more than 35 retail shops and 20 restaurants, businesses and apartments. But number of longtime tenants have also moved from the area or closed since the Blue Hill District was announced, including Grimball Jewelers VIP Print and Signs, Village Plaza Dry Cleaners and The Children’s Store.

Attempts to reach Regency for this story were unsuccessful.

Slome said that Regency wants to redevelop several of the smaller store fronts in the shopping center, which is anchored by a Whole Foods, into larger spaces. The landlord has said in the past it was interested in bringing a restaurant to Village Plaza.

“(Regency) have been civil to me. They have treated me reasonably well,” Slome said. “I don’t really hold any resentment — it is just the reality of the economics. If they can get someone to come in and pay 50 bucks per square foot then they should, but I am out.”

Slome said he would be interested in passing the business to another owner, if an interested party emerges.

“It’s a good business; it is profitable from an investment standpoint, and it would be attractive to someone who would want to go into retail,” he said.

Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684, @zeanes

Related stories from Durham Herald Sun