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Victoria Mall to boast two new attractions

By KBell
April 10, 2011 at 11 p.m.
Updated April 9, 2011 at 11:10 p.m.

Trudy's Hallmark employee Jane DeDear organizes the card section where birthday, anniversary and special occasion cards are located. Employees are hoping to have the store ready within a few days.

It wasn't a mirage or a memory people were experiencing when they walked into Trudy's Hallmark store in the Victoria Mall this weekend.

"Are you open?" several asked optimistically.

By the afternoon, store manager Donna Jones, who worked at the former store for seven years, was seeing her old crowd of customers.

"There's hugs. There's joy behind it," she said, adding that all of the old staff is back to work.

Tracy's Hallmark announced in February it would be closing after more than 23 years. But new owners, Dan Aggarwal and his wife quickly picked up the pieces to re-open the Victoria store and add it to the family's list of several other Hallmark stores that they own around Houston, Jones said.

At its opening Saturday, the store wasn't completely stocked yet, but in mid-May it will be moving into a larger location - the space where Walden Book Store used to be.

Walden Book Store is just one of several businesses - like GAP, Old Navy and Scoreboard Sports Bar - that have recently closed in the mall.

With occupancy at the mall hovering at 70 percent and store after store announcing their departures, some have wondered whether the mall could still be the regional shopping hub it's been since 1987.

But, if recent openings are any indication, the mall could be making a comeback.

"We don't need to be traveling to Houston or San Antonio. We need to have our base here," Jones said.

At the other end of the mall, two high-schoolers had traveled to the Victoria Mall and said its attractions were sufficient for their needs.

"We live in Yorktown, so there's nothing else to do there," 16-year-old Madison Weise joked.

She and her friend, 15-year-old Abigail Nash, were heading into JCPenney, which is undergoing a $3 million renovation.

And, most exciting to these two teens, the store is introducing a full-service Sephora, which is a beauty boutique that features makeup, skincare, fragrance and more.

The friends said they now purchase their Sephora makeup online, but look forward to coming to the mall to do their shopping when the boutique opens by August.

"It's something different, and they have more stuff," Abigail said.

The duo said they come to the mall often because of the stores offered to teens, like the Buckle and American Eagle.

Inside JCPenney, their arms stuffed with purchases, two other friends were sharing one of their favorite pastimes together, too.

"We are the world's best shoppers," Dottie Mints said. "We don't walk the mall often, but we come here all the time."

Mints was with her friend, Willie Jean Wilson, and this duo said the mall is still their go-to shopping spot. It will continue to be, especially if they have their way.

"It needs a Macy's. We need a Marshall's," Mints said. "We need nice stores that have moderate prices."

Back at the other mall wing, the newly-reopened Hallmark seemed to have heard their demands.

"Now we have more reasonable prices, but still top quality," Jones said.



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