Barefoot Landing prepares for new ownership under Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc.

dbryant@thesunnews.comApril 5, 2013 

— Stores at Barefoot Landing are buzzing about the complex’s new ownership under Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc., but the Myrtle Beach-based company hasn’t yet revealed its plans for the shopping, dining and entertainment hub.

The property transfer had not been recorded with the Horry County Register of Deeds online service as of Friday afternoon, but a meeting between Barefoot merchants and the new owners is scheduled for 9 a.m. April 12.

“As you may have heard, Barefoot Landing is under new ownership by the Burroughs & Chapin Co.,” according to a memo sent to Barefoot merchants this week. “We invite you to meet and speak with some of the new faces you’ll be seeing around the shopping center.”

B&C, which owns Broadway at the Beach and other properties along the Grand Strand, made an offer to buy Barefoot late last year and has been working through specifics since then. Neither B&C nor Barefoot Landing management would comment on the deal.

The sale has been the buzz among Barefoot merchants, but several said this week they still don’t know details about the purchase, including what changes might be in the works.

“Everybody is still kind of wondering what’s going to happen,” said Mike Roberts, who along with his wife has owned the Hats Galore shop for about six years. “Nobody knows yet. We haven’t heard what their actual plans are.”

Several tenants said they are hopeful that a change of ownership will mean better things for Barefoot, including more marketing, physical improvements and more customers.

“I hope it will be better,” said Arie Dahabani, who has owned Tassa Cabana gift shop for 12 years. “Get us more advertising, more people, cause the place to be more attractive. People have been coming here for so many years...they may want to see something new.”

Barefoot Landing, which opened in 1988, is home to House of Blues, Alabama Theatre, Dick’s Last Resort, Greg Norman’s Australian Grille, Alligator Adventure and other stores, restaurants and attractions surrounding a 27-acre lake. It opened years before B&C’s Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, which debuted in 1995 and is a similar outdoor shopping and entertainment hub as Barefoot Landing.

B&C, a Myrtle Beach-based company, also owns Grande Dunes, shopping centers including South Strand Commons at S.C. 544 and other properties along the Grand Strand.

Barefoot, which had been searching for a buyer for some time, notified merchants in December that B&C had made an offer to buy the complex.

Merchants say they remain curious about what the new ownership would mean for them, including rent levels and whether current Barefoot maintenance, landscaping and management workers would remain.

Some Barefoot visitors on Friday said they hoped a change in ownership would lead to the complex being spruced up and new attractions added.

David Jackson from Greensboro, N.C., who visited Barefoot on Friday with his family, said he has spent more time at Broadway during his visits to the beach rather than Barefoot because Broadway has more attractions such as MagiQuest that appeal to his two teen-aged daughters.

“They say this looks old-timey,” he said. “This looks like an antique to them. They are the future spenders.”

June Rau from Michigan, on her first visit to the Myrtle Beach area, went to Barefoot on Friday to check out specific stores such as Ron Jon Surf Shop, a mineral store and a candy shop.

“We just wanted to see something different,” Rau said after snapping photos of her daughters in front of the complex’s garden pond. The family didn’t have suggestions for making the complex better. “As a tourist, I thought it was fine,” Rau said.

Some Barefoot merchants say the complex has been going downhill, from its marketing to maintenance. That’s why Christopher Gavin, manager of Just Horse’n Around that opened at Barefoot in 2007, is ready for change, though he’s taking a wait-and-see approach until he knows specifics of B&C’s plans. Just Horse’n Around also has a store at B&C’s Broadway.

“Given the direction Barefoot was going...I welcome the change,” Gavin said. “I’m hoping it will be a good thing.”

Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or at dbryant@thesunnews.com or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_dawnbryant.

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