Mary Carbine is leaving the Madison Central Business Improvement District, where she has been its executive director since 2006.

But despite her departure to the Wisconsin Foundation & Alumni Association for a role as its managing director of Alumni Park, One Alumni Place and Pier, next to the Memorial Union, Carbine remains bullish on retail in the BID, which includes State and King streets and the Capitol Square.

What gives her confidence? Carbine said it is the influx of residents filling several new apartment buildings and the construction of more downtown housing that will make it very difficult for retailers to stay away from the city’s center.

Carbine’s comments came just hours before the City Council early Wednesday approved the $200 million Judge Doyle Square plan that includes the 250,000-square-foot headquarters for Exact Sciences Corp. and another 107,000 square feet of expansion space, a 216-room hotel for Monona Terrace, commercial space, a bicycle center and parking on blocks that now hold the Madison Municipal Building and Government East parking garage.

“I’m very optimistic about the Downtown and the future of the business mix. You will be seeing retail opening Downtown in response to the increased population and density. I’m confident of that,” Carbine said. “Retail follows the market. The people have to be there first. Oftentime, dining and entertainment leads.”

Prior to joining the BID, Carbine, now 50, was the outreach specialist for the UW-Madison Arts Institute and director of the Wisconsin Film Festival from 1999 to 2005. Carbine, a UW-Madison graduate, has also worked in Los Angeles with the American Film Institute, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and in Chicago as the assistant director and curator of the University of Chicago Film Studies.

Carbine’s last day with the BID is Tuesday. Her new gig will keep her close and in touch with Downtown business leaders and have her leading a new destination on campus that will include a park, visitor center, lounge, multi-purpose gathering spaces for alumni events, and a rooftop terrace.

The project is scheduled to be completed by fall 2016.

“I’m thrilled to be part of this exciting, developing, improving Central Downtown,” Carbine said of her new position. “We’ll be on the Campus end of it, but it will be another wonderful gathering space for the campus community and the general community.”

Mall renovations complete: This is a big weekend for the Janesville Mall.

The 600,000-square-foot property, owned by CBL & Associates Properties, the same company that owns East Towne and West Towne malls in Madison, is celebrating the completion of a multimillion dollar renovation that started in February.

The project refreshed the mall’s common areas with new paint, carpet, flooring and tile; new planters, receptacles, soft seating areas, contemporary new seating in the food court and remodeled bathrooms.

The mall opened in 1973 and was purchased in 1988 by CBL, one of the largest real estate investment trust companies in the country.

“Janesville Mall is brighter and better than ever,” said Julie Cubbage, the mall’s general manager. “Janesville is incredibly supportive of our center, and we are privileged to present a beautifully upgraded mall to the community.”

The renovation also includes four new stores: a 45,000-square-foot Dick’s Sporting Goods and a 10,000-square-foot ULTA Beauty in a portion of the former JCPenney space, along with a 1,500-square-foot Rogers & Hollands jewelry store and an 8,122-square-foot rue21 clothing store.

Pop-up stores: October not only means fall colors and the start of the Big Ten football season but the arrival of pop-up Halloween stores.

The most noticeable may be the Halloween Express stores at West Towne and East Towne malls, where massive tents house the businesses and occupy large portions of the parking lots.

At West Towne, the 7,300-square-foot tent is visible from the Beltline and is across the street from the Toys “R” Us and between the Sears and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

At East Towne, the 7,500-square-foot tent is near the Sears on the south end of the shopping center.

Tiffany Bernhardt Schultz, marketing director for the malls, said this is the first time that a tent has been used at either mall, but Halloween stores had been temporarily housed in the malls in previous years.

The West Towne store opened Sept. 20 and the East Towne location on Thursday.

Dale and Jen Ryan, the franchisees of the Halloween Express stores, also have an 8,000-square-foot store in a strip mall on Stoughton Road near Farm & Fleet.

The couple have been running two stores in Madison for 12 years but this is the first year with three Madison locations.

“They’re a lot of work,” Dale Ryan said.

Halloween Express, based in Owenton, Kentucky, was founded in 1990 and has both company-owned and franchised locations throughout the U.S.

It includes multiple locations in Wisconsin including in a strip mall near Shopko in Janesville and in a giant pumpkin-shaped tent at State Fair Park in West Allis.

The other major player is Spirit Halloween, which has stores in the former Orvis store at Greenway Station in Middleton and in a former Menard’s in Janesville.

Of course, just like Christmas, Easter and Valentines Day, Halloween is big business.

The National Retail Federation reports that 157 million Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year with each of those people spending an average of $74 compared with $77 last year. Total spending on Halloween in 2015 is expected to reach $6.9 billion.

But not everyone selling at this time of the year is out to make money for shareholders.

The nonprofit Attic Angels Association will hold its women’s new and gently worn clothing sale on Friday and Saturday at the Attic Angels campus at Old Sauk and Junction roads on the Far West Side.

The sale features designer labels, sports and cruise wear, business suits, cocktail and evening wear and even two new wedding dresses.

Proceeds will support Dane County nonprofits that provide reading and home visitation services for children ages 3 years old to kindergarten.

Attic Angels will also hold its Holidays Galore and More Sale on Nov. 13 and 14.

Send retail-related tips and story ideas to or call Barry Adams at 608-252-6148.


Barry Adams covers regional and business news for the Wisconsin State Journal.