Ross Dress for Less to open 3rd Clark County store

Discount clothier will occupy former Best Buy store

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter




Previously: Ross Dress for Less operates at locations near Westfield Vancouver mall and at the Hazel Dell Crossing retail center.

What’s new: A third Clark County store is planned at the former Best Buy location in the Columbia Crossing retail complex at Columbia Tech Center.

What’s next: Construction is expected to start in spring for a 2014 store opening.

An east Vancouver building that formerly housed a Best Buy store will soon be transformed into a Ross Dress for Less.

The Pleasanton, Calif.-based discount clothier will begin this spring to refurbish the roughly 30,000-square-foot space within the Columbia Crossing retail center at Southeast 164th Avenue and Mill Plain Boulevard. Ross's signed lease fills up the last large-store vacancy in the center, said Peter Bechen, president and chief executive officer of Portland-based PacTrust, which owns and manages the Columbia Crossing as part of the larger Columbia Tech Center development.

With its third Vancouver store, Ross Dress for Less will take over a space that was a Best Buy store until it closed in 2012 as part of a companywide move that shuttered 50 underperforming sites across the United States.

Best Buy once had two big-box stores in Clark County. The electronics retailer's Hazel Dell Towne Center store closed in 2008.

The chain operates stores at nearby Portland malls — Jantzen Beach Supercenter and Cascade Station in sales-tax-free Oregon.

But unlike Best Buy, which stands to sell more of its big-ticket items in a sales-tax-free environment, Ross Dress for Less features "off prices."

That means the store's discounted women's, men's and children's brand-name apparel, shoes and home accessories are generally priced 20 to 60 percent lower than at department stores.

The business model thrives in suburban markets, said Connie Wong, a spokeswoman for Ross Stores Inc., which owns the retail chain.

She said Ross Dress for Less officials study several aspects of a potential store site.

"We consider a variety of factors including targeted demographics that are in sync with our core customer, population density, great visibility and high traffic counts," Wong said.

Growing area

East Vancouver and nearby Camas are home to most of Clark County's recent residential and business growth.

"The Columbia Tech Center location was a great opportunity for us," Wong said.

The new Ross store will join Kohl's, Cost Plus World Market, Dressbarn, Ulta, Pier 1 Imports and a host of other retailers in the Columbia Crossing complex.

Wong could not give an opening date for east Vancouver's Ross Dress for Less, but said the company generally opens new stores in the spring. She confirmed that the new store will be an addition to the local market.

"It is not intended to replace either our (Westfield) Vancouver mall or Hazel Dell stores," Wong said.

Ross Stores Inc. operates a total of 1,285 stores, including 1,154 Ross Dress for Less stores in 33 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. The company also operates 131 stores under the name dd's Discounts in 10 states. The stores carry apparel and home items and are located in small shopping centers.