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Victoria Mall near full capacity going into holiday season

By JR Ortega
Nov. 17, 2012 at 5:17 a.m.
Updated Nov. 18, 2012 at 5:18 a.m.


ABOUT HULL STOREY GIBSON

Owns 18 malls across seven states.

Hull Properties Inc. was established in 1977 and was the predecessor to Hull/Storey Development LLC, which was formed in 1993.

On Jan. 1, 2008, the company changed its name to Hull Storey Gibson Companies LLC.

James M. Hull's primary concentration is on the acquisition, development and financial operations of the company's 10.5 million-square-foot retail portfolio.

Barry L. Storey oversees the company's new development activities.

John W. Gibson serves as the company's chief operating officer with responsibilities covering its acquisitions, development, construction, leasing and management operations.

SOURCE: hullstoreygibson.com

Guess who is in town? See Page B1 to see what kids are asking Santa Claus for Christmas.

A stroll through the Victoria Mall shows an evident transformation - a new store here, an expansion there.

The changes are welcomed additions for the 31-year-old mall, which experienced an influx of national retail store closings in 2010.

And the changes are far from over.

John Gibson, a partner with Hull Storey Gibson Co., said new retailers and the square footage expansion of existing retailers should provide for a successful holiday shopping experience and that shoppers have more to look forward to in 2013, including more stores and a mall facelift.

"The mall reflects the community's success," Gibson said. "And (shoppers) have invested in their stores."

The first quarter of 2013 is expected to bring in Crazy 8, a children's clothing store; The Body Shop, a ladies ready-to-wear store; and a Best Buy Mobile store, one of only 20 in the country, Gibson said.

This past year's biggest rented spaces have been Shoe Dept. Encore, TJ Maxx and Burke's Outlet. Each of the stores also constructed outdoor-to-indoor entrances, adding to the mall's outside aesthetic.

The mall's interior and rear entrances will see a facelift in 2013, he said, especially since a parcel was sold next to the Cinemark theatre for the construction of a Courtyard Marriott.

Aside from the new stores and future renovation, Melrose, Rue 21, Buckle, American Eagle, Chuck E. Cheese and Visionworks, each have, or will, expand in space, making room for more merchandise.

The mall also welcomed Justice, a young girls' clothing retail store.

Melrose's expansion was one of the largest, nearly doubling its space from 6,200 square feet to 12,000 square feet, Gibson said. The store's expansion, he said, paved the way for the other retail stores to consider expanding.

"I think the consistent theme here is that retailers are doing very well," he said. "They are expanding, and they are investing in their stores."

Monica Maloney, store manager for Rue 21 Etc!, said the store took over the hallway next door, adding several hundred square feet.

The Rue 21 added the etcetera to the name because of the merchandise, particularly accessories, that was added to the store.

"Shoppers love it. They can really see what we have. Everything is a little more distinct," she said.

Maloney has noticed big and subtle changes throughout the mall.

"They're good changes," she said.

For Beeville resident Sonia Marin, the changes have not been so noticeable with the exception of the bigger retailers.

Marin occasionally visits the Victoria Mall because it is closer to home. Her friend, Aurora Galarza, stood close by, a Shoe Dept. Encore bag in her hand.

On any given day, mall shoppers can be seen with bags from some of the newer stores, but Marin, who lived in San Antonio for 10 years, would still like to see even more growth, especially because she drives more than an hour to shop.

"I'm used to more, and I would like to see more," she said. "I wish there was a bookstore."

No matter how popular, a store's success relies on its market, Gibson said.

When FYE, Old Navy, Gap and TILT left the mall, it was because their volumes of business were not working in the Crossroads market.

Despite the comings and goings of stores, the future remains bright for the shoppers in the Crossroads, he said.

"I think that opportunity to shop in Victoria has expanded in the past three to four years," he said. "We think a rising tide lifts all boats."

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