21 Choices hopes to stay after demolition

Barely a month after it opened in the University Village — days before its grand opening — the owner of 21 Choices already doesn’t know where the branch will be in two years.

But Gudu Husson’s decision to open a store at the UV — which is set to be demolished by 2012 under USC’s Master Plan — brings into question whether the branch will still be around in two years.

Mike Lee | Daily Trojan

Mike Lee | Daily Trojan

USC own the University Village, and plans to redevelop the land as part of its Master Plan, a

framework for the physical development of campus and surrounding areas during the next three decades

Yet Husson, owner and founder of 21 Choices, said the company simply wanted to establish the store’s brand, create a fanbase in the USC area and build credibility so that students would want to come back.

“We’re hoping and working [so] we get to stay here, to serve the students and the people in the community,” Husson said. “We want people to want us to stay here.”

Erin Moya, creative director of 21 Choices, said the company was aware of the Master Plan and had a timeline regarding the store’s operations in mind.

“The reason we started here and now was to get our foot in the door with USC,” Moya said. “We came here assuming we would be busy enough to justify a two-year project. Things are going as expected.”

While the company isn’t certain where they will be setting up after the demolition, Husson said they would be staying in the USC area.

“We know we want to stay either some place on campus or right off … We want to show USC that we are catering to the students so that we can get the best spot when the new places open,” Moya said.

21 Choices hopes to be even more of a presence on or near the UV after the reconstruction is completed, and be able to cater to both students and the surrounding community, he added.

The university administration said it would be working with current tenants — including 21 Choices — to negotiate which stores eventually come back to the new UV after the reconstruction is completed.

“We hope to try to assist tenants to find other locations and we give them improvement allowances,” said Kristina Raspe, associate senior vice president for real estate and asset management at USC.

The allowances are allotted amounts of money given to current tenants on case-by-case basis that would assist them to rebuild at the new UV, Raspe said.

21 Choices has already begun serving customers since its initial opening on Aug. 27, and a number of students who have visited the store say they would want it to remain even after the demolition.

“I think a lot of students would be sad to see it go because it has a lot of support,” said Allen Li, a sophomore majoring in business administration. “I hope they will be back.”

Lauren Rickert, a junior majoring in business administration, said she felt the store offered a different option for students who go to the UV.

“It’s very clean and new here. It is appealing to the USC student because they are raising the bar. People feel safe here,” said Rickert. “[After the demolition] I’m sure they will put it somewhere else or put another yogurt place somewhere.”