Sanbusco Market Center may be facing foreclosure, but the center's retail tenants say they're going strong.
"This is the best year we've ever had," said Laurie Wilson, who is the owner of Teca Tu -- A Pawsworthy Emporium. "We want to thank all our loyal customers and tourists who visit the shop."
"The mall is contractually obligated to advertise, and the mall is doing its stuff," said Neal Frank, owner of Santa Fe Pens.
Frank said he's owned Santa Fe Pens for 16 years, "and we're not going anywhere. We still haven't recovered from [the economic difficulties of 2008], but we've had growth every year since then."
Frank added: "As far as I can tell, everybody is still here, and there are no vacancies." (Other than the Borders store space.)
Merchants say they have been fielding questions from customers since a $9 million complaint for foreclosure was filed last week against Sanbusco Market Center owner Joe Schepps.
Schepps said in a statement that the filing came after he was unable to recover from the Borders bankruptcy that left a 25,000-square-foot vacancy in Sanbusco.
Nina Houle, owner of On Your Feet and other stores at Sanbusco, said, "We have some customers asking about it. They wonder if we're going to have to close and then move."
In the meantime, "things are going along business as usual," she said. "We've been here 23 years."
Barbara Lenihan, owner of Pandora's, said, "I just think we have a great mall with great small businesses. Every one of us weathered the recession and came through stronger than before."
She added, "What really worries people is the uncertainty."
The foreclosure complaint, filed by GECMC 2001-3 Montezuma Avenue LLC, according to state online records, says the debt began with a $9.7 million loan to the Sanbusco Corp. in July 2001 by General Electric Capital Corp.
The complaint says the Sanbusco Corp., which had been paying $91,785 a month, has been in default since last August, and that as of May 1 owed $8.9 million in principal, interest, late charges and fees.
The lender is seeking a monetary judgment on this amount, a foreclosure decree, appointment of a receiver, attorney fees and other relief the court deems appropriate.
Gordon Eidos, owner of Eidos Contemporary Jewelry, said shopping center tenants often have to go to "hell and back" when the landlord goes into foreclosure because shoppers wrongly assume the tenants are at fault, not just the landlord.
As for his own business, which involves the import and manufacture of jewelry, sales are still down from the level they reached in 2008, Eidos said.
The court filing "seems to have confused a lot of people," said Celeste Miller of Kioti. "The main thing for all of us when we heard Borders was leaving was to get a good local business to replace it and let people know businesses were open and that it's a great place to shop."
Linda Prager, owner of Kioti, said, "We're very happy with businesses here. It's a terrific mall."
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