Three Kiosks Close Down at Shops by Harvard Yard

Although some businesses at the The Shops by Harvard Yard at Holyoke Center are doing well, the majority of shop owners and workers said they are disappointed with sales in the three-month-old Harvard venture.

Three kiosks have already closed, as the owners moved out within a week of Christmas. Even though three new stores are expected to move in soon, business has been slow at Harvard Real Estate's newly renovated shops.

Workers at almost all of the businesses in the mini-mall give partial blame for poor sales to the usual post-holiday downswing in business.

However, one worker at a kiosk called Head Games, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the slow business can't be blamed on the season alone.

"It's a mixture of everything," she said, explaining that slow sales could be related to the recession and the short time The Shops have been open.

"Not everyone is exposed to the fact that this place exists," she said.

A worker at the Time Zone kiosk, who also did not want to be identified, said "business has been slow" since the opening of The Shops.

"A lot of people don't know about [The Shops at] Holyoke Center," said the worker at Time Zone, who also added that business in her kiosk is "slow" and "not steady."

"We just need more advertising and time," said Karin Berger of Renato's For Men. Although she also mentioned the post-holiday sales downturn as a reason for poor sales, she stressed that "in general" business in her shop "is pretty slow."

It's possible that The Shops' lack of advertising doomed three kiosks which recently closed: Life's a Grind, a pepper shop; On the Go, a t-shirt shop; and Animal, Vegetable and Mineral.

Although none of the owners could be contacted, Lucila Calderon, owner of Discovery Imports, said she talked to an owner before he left who told her that "there was no business for him here."

But Bill Nunn, acting general manager of The Shops, said the "experimental nature" of the kiosks was the reason for their departure. He also said there was a "steady stream of inquiry" into setting up new businesses at Holyoke Center and said the three that left will be replaced within 30 days.

And some businesses at The Shops are satisfied with their sales so far.

Liz Terhune, who owns and operates Chile Head, which recently moved from a one-unit kiosk to a two-unit kiosk, said consumers' passion for the"cheap thrill" of peppers and salsa have helpedher shop succeed.

"It's our first [kiosk] success story," saidNunn.

Still, most shop owners are looking towards theupcoming months for success.

"Summer's coming and there'll be moretourists," said the woman from Time Zone."Hopefully it will get better."

"[The Shops havn't] been here too long, saidthe worker from Head Games, "but there ispotential...It will be better.