New Ross Dress for Less is now open in SLO. And it’s not your average Ross

A new Ross Dress for Less store has opened at the Madonna Plaza shopping center in San Luis Obispo — and its manager said the new business is taking a slightly different approach than a typical Ross.

With no announcement to local media and some limited area advertising, the new store — the second now operating in SLO — opened July 19.

The store at 273 Madonna Road is now in full swing with the word getting out, and steady flows of customers are coming in, said store manager Brenda Flores.

“People are really excited,” Flores said Thursday. “It’s been really busy, a lot of sales. Some people have been walking up to see if the doors were open. Today actually has been one of our slower days, but it has been pretty busy every day.”

The roughly 22,000-square-foot store takes up part of the space previously occupied by Sears in a former 75,000-square-foot building, which since has been broken into three tenant spaces totaling about 56,000 square feet. A Michaels craft store is moving into the adjacent space.

Flores said the Ross Dress for Less store at 868 Higuera St. in downtown SLO will remain open, as far as she knows.

“I am responsible for relocation and hiring here, and I haven’t heard anything about any changes (from store executives),” Flores said.

Dora Gonzales of Nipomo checks out the new Ross Dress for Less in Madonna Plaza. The store in the former Sears location has been open for a couple of weeks. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Higher-end items and furniture

The new Ross has some features regular shoppers of the discount store may not recognize.

It’s offering some relatively higher-end items from brands like Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Bobbi Brown and Kat Von D, Flores said.

And the business has more furniture for sale, as well as more convenient parking than the store downtown, making it easier for customers to transport heavier items such as chairs, tables and desks, Flores said.

Many clothing item prices range between about $20 and $60, though the store also sells cheaper items such as a Van Heusen men’s dress shirts for $9.99 and Liz & Sara women’s shorts for $4.99.

“We’re also offering a lot more shoes for sale than in our downtown store,” Flores said.

Flores said the new store’s projected annual revenue target is $5.5 million.

Ross Dress for Less in the old San Luis Obispo Sears location in Madonna Plaza has been open for a couple of weeks. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

What customers think of the new store

Multiple customers roaming the aisles Thursday said they were pleased with what they were seeing, including Nipomo resident Dora Gonzalez who said it was “big and roomy and seems very well organized.”

Ana Roman of Los Osos said the new store is a much better location for her to access.

“Coming from Los Osos, it’s very convenient for me to shop here compared with the downtown store,” Roman said. “And it’s much easier to park.”

Mark McCullough of Nipomo, who works in SLO, said he doesn’t think the downtown store will co-exist long term with another Ross across town.

“I don’t see two Ross stores surviving, which is too bad for SLO’s downtown, but the downtown is always evolving,” McCullough said. “If the Higuera store leaves, I hope a new bowling alley goes in to replace it.”

McCullough selected a pair of $30 Skechers for purchase.

Carla Fox of Arroyo Grande said she saw a road advertisement sign for the new store along Highway 101 and another ad on television. Fox joked she and her family would spent four to five hours in the store.

“I love it here,” Fox said. “I’m over 70, and I’ve been shopping at Ross stores for years. I’m here today, and I’ll be coming back again.”

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.