DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Michael Phillips describes his store, Sircastletees, as more than just a place to buy sneakers.

“We bring a little bit more than just a shoe store as far as the customized controllers,” he said.

The store customizes shoes. They also create art and sell clothes.

Phillips opened his downtown Raleigh store in 2014 and back in June 2021, opened his second location at the Streets at Southpoint mall in Durham.

However, two days after Christmas he received a letter from the mall.

“Letting me know that they wanted to terminate my lease,” Phillips said.

Shortly after he said he called a Streets at Southpoint representative.

“She pretty much said that we were doing everything right. Our numbers are good. We are paying our bills on time. We’re doing nothing wrong. It’s nothing on our end. She said ‘we were looking to remove a few shoe stores in the mall because we feel like we have too many.’ I said, ‘well I’m not a shoe store (in) you guys’ mall directory’,” Phillips explained.

He said he tried compromising with mall officials. Phillips said he offered to pay more rent and to stop selling sneakers altogether at that location.

“She said ‘well, even if you did that we still wouldn’t want you here. It still doesn’t fit our narrative.’ So, that had me kind of confused — wait a second, you just said it was about shoes,” said Phillips.

“[She said] Brookfield Properties is looking to go into a different direction with the mall space,” Phillips said.

CBS 17 News reached out to Brookfield Properties, the company that owns the mall. In an email, they said, “we do not publicly discuss our license agreements or discussions. However, the license agreement permits termination by Streets at Southpoint.”

Phillips said he’s received a lot of support from the community and Durham City Councilman Leonardo Williams is also involved.

Williams told CBS 17’s Nick Sturdivant over the phone that he’s in communication with Sircastletees and The Streets of Southpoint to come to a solution.

“I’m very happy that he’s bringing more awareness to the situation,” Phillips said

Phillips said he has 20 employees at the Southpoint location. He said he plans to take care of them after the store closes.

Brookfield Properties launched the “partner to empower program” last year. The program is dedicating $25 million to Black and minority businesses.

We asked the company how many businesses they have helped through that program.

“As a whole, 10 businesses have opened within our portfolio since the program launch last May. We actually track this on our website for transparency,” Brookfield officials said in an email late Monday afternoon.

RELATED LINKS

Termination Letter – Sircastle Lease Cancellation

Brookfield’s minority business program – Partner to Empower program