Friday, January 9, 2015

Penney's closing is last nail in mall's coffin

The News & Observer is reporting this morning that the J.C. Penney store in Wilson is closing. Is anyone surprised?

The demise of the Penney's store, the last of the original anchor stores in Parkwood Mall, was inevitable when the mall owners made a series of blunders in managing the retail space that once dominated Wilson sales. The mall allowed Belk to jump ship and move to the new Heritage Crossing. That was a disabling blow to the mall because Belk generated traffic that other tenants could use. Belk moved for a new location but no more space. The mall would have been wise to give Belk free rent, if necessary, to keep the department store in the mall. 

It was all downhill after that. Sears closed. Empty storefronts outnumbered open stores. Mall owners built a big new cinema complex, which drew viewers but not shoppers and hid the mall stores. A huge monstrosity of a sign went up in two locations by the mall, with Wilson City Council revising sign laws to appease the mall owners. Then the mall owners, in their infinite wisdom, closed the interior common areas of the mall. Not only was there no incentive to go to the mall; you were barred from entering the mall.

If there has been a greater series of blunders in commercial management, I can't think of it.

With Penney's closing, the bulk of the former mall's retail revenue is going away. Mall owners have talked of bulldozing the remaining vacant portions of the mall. Demolition will be expensive, and the owners don't seem to be in any hurry. The once vibrant expanse of acreage will soon be an eyesore, an open wound in Wilson's commercial landscape.

 It didn't have to happen.

1 comment:

Debra said...

I’ve never understood why a movie theater was built by the mall in the first place. I mean, really. What were the planners thinking? Did they honestly believe that people would shop till they dropped in to see the latest film? I liked the location of the old theater, across from Taco Bell (until they built the new Taco Bell). Parking was easier, and you could see from the road what was playing. Nothing wrong with the way it was. For years I’ve been appalled by the number of businesses built, then demolished or left empty. How many more new buildings do we need in this town? Talk about waste.