New national discount store to open in Iowa City Marketplace

An Ollie’s Bargain Outlet store is set to open later this year in the Iowa City Marketplace.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

The Iowa City Marketplace is one of the areas that is a target for the energy efficiency grant. The Iowa City Marketplace is seen in Iowa City on March 2 2021.

Kate Perez, News Editor

The south side of Iowa City will soon have a new national discount store. Ollie’s Bargain Outlet location is expected to open this year.

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, a store selling closeout and extra inventory items, will occupy the space in the Iowa City Marketplace, formerly known as the Sycamore Mall, that was once used by Lucky’s Market.

Lydia Chernitsky-Hamd, leasing director for Brookwood Capital Advisors, the owners of the Marketplace, said the store will be the discount chain’s first location in Iowa.

Map by Jami Martin-Trainor/The Daily Iowan

“When a property like this is bought, typically we reach out to some nationals who we think would be good for the size space that is vacant, and we connected with Ollie's, and they really expressed interest in this,” she said. “They had been really heavily wanting to open up the first ever location in Iowa, and that this would be a perfect kind of location for them.”

Chernitsky-Hamd said the new Ollie’s location will help complete the Marketplace, which was bought in October 2022 and has leased new stores in it since. The Marketplace was sold for over $14 million and is nearly completely leased out.

“That was a really great spot there, but it's been vacant for a little bit here, and I always think there's nothing really quite like it in that center there and I just think it will really round it out,” Chernitsky-Hamd said. “People will go and have lunch at Panera Bread, shop at Ollie’s, see a movie.”

The store has yet to set a definitive opening date but is expected to open later this year, Chernitsky-Hamd said. She said she is excited to see all that it brings to the city.

“There's a lot of different bargain stores out there like Ross or Michaels, but Ollie’s is a little bit more unique and a little bit more budget-friendly,” she said. “What I love about all these is that they have a ton of different options as far as merchandise that maybe is not just strict like clothing, retail, or house decor. It's like anything and everything.”

Along with bringing deals to the area, the store brings the creation of jobs and traffic to the Iowa City South District.

Angie Jordan, executive director of the Iowa City South Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District, said the store’s location can help bring the community together.

“I think to [people in] the South District, wanting to have things that people want to come to, it helps them to feel like, ‘Oh, I'm valuable enough to have a store that's for me. I belong here. This feels like home,’” Jordan said. “I think that is another indicator of increasing quality of life, I feel like I belong because there are things I want to go to or purchase or can easily access.”

Jordan said the new store will also help create more business for other stores in the South District.

“We're excited about the things happening in South District and continuing to connect parts of the community to the Sycamore Mall just across the highway from South District, so there's more foot traffic over there, we can pull them over here too,” she said.

The mix between local and national businesses will be beneficial to the area as well, Jordan said.

Tasha Lard, owner of the JD Beauty Supply store in South Iowa City and president of the Board of Directors for the Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District, said the store’s opening will motivate other retailers to open stores in the area.

“It promotes an area that is not only growing, but it also allows people who are on specific incomes to be able to afford things that they probably wouldn't be able to afford in the store, which is great, and we have that on our side of our area,” Lard said.

The Ollie’s location along with other businesses will help Iowa City in terms of economic growth as well, especially on the south side, Lard said.

“The South District Marketplace is getting ready to open up hopefully in March. When we are there, we are providing more opportunities for individuals inside of the communities,” Lard said. “We're creating more businesses, [and] we're also creating opportunities for more jobs within the area as well.”

Lard said the new store will help promote the district’s goal of building the business community on the south side.

“People in our area — they want to shop where they live. They don't want to have to travel so much to get to a store to shop and want to shop right where they are,” she said. “They want to be able to go have coffee around the corner further from their house or just to meet other people who have the same mindset as they do.”