What Would You Like to See Here?

Discount outlet The Firefly Trading Co. closed late last year at the Healdsburg Center on Center Street.


The Healdsburg Center, formerly the Mitchell Shopping Center, lost a major tenant late last year when an outlet store that sold seconds from a range of other retailers, closed its doors.

Firefly, which bought its business from the former Healdsburg Outlet, had a 6,580-square-foot space at 449 Center St., inside the popular shopping center which also has a busy and a number of other smaller stores, shops and cafés.

Dana Wood, one of two leasing agents on the property, said he and co-agent Eric Drew haven't had any takers yet for the Firefly space -- likely because of its large size.

"It would be a perfect place for all different kinds of stores," Wood said. "Something like a Trader Joe's would be great."

The Firefly vacancy came just a month or two before the closure of the at 431 Center St. in the same shopping center. Wood said he has had a few inquiries on the Sears space, likely because, at 3,200 square feet, it is smaller and thus more affordable.

This is the first time in about five years that the shopping center has had so much vacant space, he said.

Wood said the struggling economy was probably at least partly to blame for both closures. The Sears store, part of a chain of four other North Bay Sears outlets, established itself in Healdsburg just at the time when the economy was about to collapse.

With Firefly, it was probably a combination of the economy and other factors, Wood said.

The result is some gaping holes in an otherwise bustling shopping center.

What would you really love to see in place of Firefly? Or the Sears space?

"I'd really like to know what people want to see there," Wood said.

Tell us in the comments.


Jenny April 24, 2012 at 02:44 AM
It would be really great to see something like Firefly, where regular people who live in Healdsburg could get a great deal on "stuff." I already miss that place. Dollar Tree has its moments, but too much made in China. Everywhere and Favorites are fantastic clothing stores, and the only ones that are affordable around here. No more tasting rooms, upscale restaurants, boutiques or high end art galleries, please.
JoAnne April 24, 2012 at 03:31 AM
I'm with Jenny on this one - Firefly was a win-win for locals looking to get a fair price, and also pay PGE too. Now where do you find anything close to what they had, and the previous owners who also couldn't make it doing the same thing. Let's just hope it isn't more of the same in your last statement...we deserve better!
Keri Brenner (Editor) April 24, 2012 at 03:55 AM
I agree. Firefly had some really good quality things at great prices. Would love to get another similar outlet store there...
Toni Lisoni April 24, 2012 at 03:56 AM
I'd love to see Trader Joe's or Ross. We need good stuff at affordable prices.
Judith Everett April 24, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I'm with Toni Trader Joes would be perfect!!!!
joyce April 24, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Trader Joe's would never be allowed into Healdsburg because of their ability to sell wine so cheaply. (Can you say "Two buck Chuck?") The local wine lobby would block that attempt.
Carl April 24, 2012 at 04:11 PM
..and so, we must all go "down" the highway to TJoes and spend more $ in the process. Sheldon's would not like the idea either, as we would also have choices across the street, vs. paying their prices too. We deserve a break - more voices may get someone's attention - hope they listen!
Judy Krohn April 24, 2012 at 04:36 PM
As long as we're wishing and hoping....a HomeGoods Store would be fantastic!! The north bay doesn't have one (yet). -Judy
Christian Kallen April 24, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Be careful what you wish for - Trader Joe's would be convenient, but the traffic??? Forget it!
Toni Lisoni April 24, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Christian may be right. I don't think that the current parking lot could handle the "traffic" either. Maybe what we need is someone with locally produced goods and/or food that somehow don't cost an arm and a leg. Maybe, say a co-op. And maybe, if local sustainability really has to be that expensive, we can all learn to do with a little less, that's actually good for us and the environment when we consume it and actually makes our economy healthier as well. I don't know enough about how to do this. I just know that a locally sustainable business that offers healthy alternatives at commensurate prices would be the best. It would save us all from freeway trips and help our local economy as well. Does anyone out there know how to do this?
Ruby April 24, 2012 at 05:56 PM
I would like to see a cheaper lunch place for people who live/work in the area. Shelton's is really the only option (although very good) but would like another soup/salad/sandwich place that's affordable and no fuss. Another idea is a lunch market with pre-made to go options.
Peter April 24, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Trader Joe's is a large chain owned by an offshore interest. Not what I would like to see there, competing with independently and locally owned Shelton's or Big John's. How about a French Charter School? ;-)
Kathy Seisdedos April 24, 2012 at 06:47 PM
I agree that Firefly was a great general store: snacks, furniture, clothes, and more. It served all ages, all types, locals and tourists. I'd love to see another like it.
Toni Lisoni April 24, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Peter has a good point regarding offshore ownership, etc. Truly local is better. I think that affordability inevitably becomes a concern. But, I believe that people who are educated as to how the added expense really saves us on a communal level, they may be willing to pay a little more and consume a little less, as a trade-off. I know that I would be willing to do so, especially if, by doing so, I could know that I was helping a community member make a living wage with healthcare benefits, etc. It really does take village, or maybe a "burg."
Kathy Seisdedos April 24, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Ever since Coat-to-Coast moved out, I've thought that space would be great for indoor sports. Pad the posts and turn it into a roller rink would be the cheapest. The low ceilings are a problem, but people could play indoor soccer, volleyball, basketball and tennis (the posts would be a problem again). Plenty of people want to play sports when it is too hot, cold, rainy or dark to be outside--or everything is full! Let's get creative!
Christian Kallen April 24, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Right - my first thought was a bowling alley! Used to be one in town right behind it on Healdsburg Ave. Could be an alternative to the surfeit of upscale opportunities in town.
Suzanne Livingston April 24, 2012 at 07:25 PM
I like the idea of Trader Joes or a Ross......local herbal business?
joyce April 24, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Toni, I agree with you that many people would pay more if they could see it was for the common good. What I do not understand is how the "Peach Lady" at our local farmers' market can justify $4 a pound for her peaches. By my calculations, that is about a buck a bite. Also the local farmers who charge $5 and up for a dozen "organic" eggs. Where do they arrive at that price? Unfortunately, I find it hard to justify those prices when I know for a fact that the Peach Lady has a rich bond trader for a husband, and her peach farm on Yoakim Bridge Road is her second home! And the many egg farmers (example, Windy River) are Stanford graduates who aspire to mid-level corporate salaries for their work as down-home farmers. I'm just not so sure about supporting that kind of logic.
Keri Brenner (Editor) April 24, 2012 at 09:30 PM
If we can't get a discount clothing "seconds" outlet, I would go for a bowling alley too! Or a live music venue with dancing....
Toni Lisoni April 24, 2012 at 10:25 PM
I have a running debate with a local vintner, who charges a lot for his wine, which is of the best quality around. He's convinced that a lot of local people aren't intersted in his product, because they aren't willing to pay the true cost for both a quality product and fair business practices. I completely disagree with him. And I remain a member of his wine club, because he may well be the only local, wine industry operation that provides health insurance coverage for his employees, as part of their compensation package. He says that it costs $6 more dollars per bottle of wine. I say, I'm happy to pay it, knowing that I'm supporting the cause. Joyce hit the nail on the head with her previous post. What people don't want to pay for is local produce that's dollar a bite. Most people can't afford it, and most of those who can, don't like the feeling that they're being played for fools. I say that there's a happy medium within those parameters that has yet to be tapped. Once someone learns to implement a business model with that happy medium in mind, I believe that our local community will respond enthusiastically, whether it's food or clothing or entertainment.
Keri Brenner (Editor) April 24, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Yes, I agree with Toni. Well said. We want good quality food, dining, wine or other items but not rip-off prices. If someone could be able to figure out how to offer that, he or she would do well in that shopping center.
Lizzardking's Rise April 25, 2012 at 12:45 AM
I say either a smoke shop or a joke shop. Failing that, maybe a charming tea house.
Carmen April 25, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I vote for a Ross or Target. I live in Healdsburg and have to shop in Santa Rosa all the time, or internet.... and I am done window shopping in Healdsburg.
John B April 26, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Bowling Alley/music venue?? Yes please! Too much food/wine/clothing already.We need some late night activity in this town for the locals. The plaza area is pretty much out of the question for music due to the nearby hotels and restaurants, but the Firefly building would be perfect!
Carol (Kiki) Noack April 27, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Isn't that what's going to happen behind Cyrus or at the Cerri building? And if so, what's the ETA? It's sad that two seemingly perfect uses for that space are the exact things that didn't end up working out for the owners - an appliance outlet and a general goods outlet. Don't suppose it's realistic to drop rents so that we can have those things back.
Carol (Kiki) Noack April 27, 2012 at 01:58 AM
I'd love a bowling alley! Great idea, Christian!
centerliterarycafe April 27, 2012 at 03:05 PM
I'd like to see Healdsburg's own Dance Studio downtown. Good, clean fun for all ages.


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