Surely you’ve seen the ‘death of the American Mall’ stories, as well as felt shame when entering the dim corridors of Heartland Mall. In a changing retail environment, the once proud bastions of American consumerism are giving up the ghost. Some cities have turned once thriving shopping centers into college campuses (Austin’s Highland Mall), public libraries (McAllen’s former Walmart), or even corporate headquarters (San Antonio based Rackspace Hosting occupies the former Windsor Park Mall). With Heartland Mall’s rising vacancies, and national retailers wary of investing in an antiquated early 1980s facility, changes had to be made. Security Property National, current owners of Heartland Mall, are introducing a new theme. Retail Retirement Homes.
“We know the time must come to say goodbye to some of our most beloved brands”, manager Esmeralda Covington sombrely stated. “While it’s never easy, we hope to give these aging brands the dignity they deserve as they reach the end of the road, awaiting that great mezzanine in the sky.”
JCPenney has been struggling with sales for quite a while, and will make a good anchor store, according to Covington. Radio Shack will revert to its former location in Heartland Mall. A Blockbuster Video will open next to the Radio Shack, and will offer vintage VHS and Betamax tapes, alongside DVDs.
Kenny Rogers Roasters will replace Chic-Fil-A, which is moving to Commerce Square. “We didn’t want to offend the elder brands, but moving all of the thriving stores back to Commerce Square was part of the plan all along.” Corn Dog 7 will remain. A Quiznos subs franchise has been invited to join, due to high franchise failure rates. Sears, a company that openly admits the only reason people go to their stores is because of empty parking lots, will move into the former Bealls location, eventually transitioning all appliance and hardware sales to a new location at the west end of the mall.
“We ask that you be nice to some of these brands. They’re getting old, a little worn around the edges. Fixtures might look like something from the set of “The Jefferson’s”, but that’s what they like, it’s what they are used to.” reminded Covington.
In even bigger news, K-Mart is set to return to town, ending a 20+ year drought. Hollywood Theaters has agreed to shrink to accommodate the K-Mart location, and will return to the “Movies 4” concept. Walls will be knocked down, and screens made smaller. The Dolby 5.1 Surround system will be replaced with generic computer speakers, as not to disturb the elderly neghibors.
To the delight of the young and young at heart, an arcade will be located in the space currently occupied by Bath and Body Works, which will move to Commerce Square. Covington stated that “We want to have all of the games you remember, and maybe a few you don’t.” Games will include Street Fighter II Tournament Edition, Double Dragon, NBA Jam, Frogger, and “the coin pusher that never gave you any coins, but you were foolish enough to try and quickly felt ashamed of your actions.” Area teens will still have ample opportunity to hone their shoplifting skills, as Claire’s plans on staying.
Other brands, long thought to have been bankrupt, may have existed as holding companies or portfolio entries. In these cases, attempts will be made to recreate the storefront and stock the location with merchandise, so people can remember the brand in a better light. Several of these brands expected to be tenants at Heartland Mall include Circuit City, Eckerd, Office Max, Comp USA, and Montgomery Wards. A Daewoo dealership will round out the development. “We think the “Car of Yesterday” store will compliment the new Bruner Toyota location.