That Mall is sick and that Store is dead!

January 15, 2007

Wallets Open As Doors Close

Filed under: "coliseum mall" — Anita @ 3:38 pm

Wallets open as mall’s doors close
Shoppers took in clearance sales as Coliseum Mall starts to make way for a town center.
January 15, 2007
HAMPTON — So this is the end of a mall.

With much of the parking lot already blocked off for the upcoming demolition, cars crammed into the remaining spaces as customers came for one last shopping trip before Coliseum Mall closes for good.

Shoppers wandered the corridors, passing by many shops already closed and shuttered. Many people clutched multiple shopping bags, having taken advantage of the clearance sales.

Sunday marked the day that most stores closed at the nearly 34-year-old mall, which will reopen in a few years as the Peninsula Town Center – an open-air shopping center that will include residential and office space.

For Michele Woods-Jones, a Hampton resident who’s been shopping at Coliseum Mall for years, her visit was a bit like saying good-bye to an old friend.

“In some ways it’s sad,” Woods-Jones said as she clutched a large J.C. Penney bag in each hand. “In another way, you want to take advantage of the best deals. It’s like my own personal way to say good-bye.”

After all, it’s not often she can afford silk pillowcases and leather purses for each of her three daughters, Woods-Jones added.

J.C. Penney, the only one of the mall’s original big-name retailers that still exists today, offered deep discounts on Sunday. A $44 pair of Liz Claiborne pants, for example, sold for about $13.

J.C. Penney will join Macy’s and Burlington Coat Factory as one of the few stores that will remain open throughout most of the construction – scheduled for completion in April 2009 – although J.C.Penney and Burlington Coat Factory will close briefly to change locations.

Barnes & Noble, Life Uniforms, Lenscrafters and Lee Nails will stay open at least through the end of the month. The free-standing restaurants – Steak & Ale, Bennigan’s and Outback Steakhouse – will remain.

Lee Nails, which merged with Venetian Nails, is moving to a new location at Riverdale Plaza. Other stores are moving, too – like Kay Jewelers to Coliseum Crossing Shopping Center – but some posted signs directing shoppers to other locations.

While Coliseum’s closing is a matter of moving or sending inventory elsewhere for some stores, the smaller businesses didn’t all fare so well. Keum C. Hairston decided to close her kiosk, “Picture Me,” for good.

Hairston has printed customers’ personal photographs onto T-shirts, calendars, mugs and key chains from her kiosk for the past six years. It wasn’t worth it to look for a new location, she said Sunday.

“I had a lot of customers, especially at the holidays,” Hairston said as she finished transferring a grandchild’s photo onto a canvas bag. “They’re going to miss me, and I’m going to miss them. But I guess it’s time to go.”

But for Ines Ledbetter, Elena Welch, Maria Godfrey and Mercedes McHenry, a group of Hampton friends – and natives of Spain – who spent Sunday afternoon shopping together, the closing isn’t a bad thing.

The four said they’re looking forward to the new shopping center as well as the possibility of new nightspots.

“I think,” Ledbetter said as she carefully examined the miniature model of the Peninsula Town Center on display, “I’m going to like this one better.”

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