Advocate editorial board opinion: Victoria Mall is economically weathering downturn

We were pleased to meet the owners of Victoria Mall - Hull Storey Gibson Companies - on Tuesday afternoon. John Gibson and Jim Hull assured us the Victoria Mall is well and strong.

All of us are aware of recent closings such as Hallmark, The Gap and Old Navy to name a few. So naturally, the Advocate editorial board was concerned and had asked questions.

But Gibson noted that he and his co-owners love Victoria and that the mall currently is at about 70-percent occupancy. He said the intention is to build that back up to 90-percent occupancy within a year. In the meantime, the owners are doing business conservatively.

However, a new mix of retailers will occupy the spaces, according to Gibson, and they will better serve mall-shopping trends. Also, when these new mall tenants start moving in, a renovation of the mall will ensue, as well.

Gibson complimented Victoria's compact business area - the mall and other major retailers in free standing stores or "power centers," as he referred to them. A couple of examples would be Target and Kohl's and the businesses adjoining them. He noted that in many communities, the business centers are fractured because a shopper has to travel all over to shop in a diverse way.

This compact business area helps increase sales, Gibson said. So he welcomes the big box stores around the mall.

The end result is that Victoria serves the region. It is easy to do all one's shopping in one compact area.

For these reasons and others - Hull said the mall is not a drain on his company and has capital to work with - we are happy.

And we thank Gibson and Hull for visiting with us and allaying our fears. Both have an invitation to visit with us again.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.