Victoria Mall gets new stores, planned renovation


By B
July 30, 2011 at 2:30 a.m.

The Victoria Mall is undergoing some changes with new stores opening in spots that have been abandoned or recently vacated.

The Victoria Mall is undergoing some changes with new stores opening in spots that have been abandoned or recently vacated.

With new shops, store relocations and a planned renovation, new life is on its way to the Victoria Mall.

The next few months will be busy, said John Gibson, a partner in Hull Storey Gibson Companies, which manages the mall.

A Burkes Outlet - a chain that offers discount clothing, accessories, home decor and more - will take up about 20,000 square feet where the Tilt arcade was and should open in September or October, he said. I-Scream, an ice cream shop going in beside Subway, should open within a few weeks.

Other projects are under way, including a national retailer that plans to take up about 25,000 square feet, Gibson said. The deal is still in the works, however, and he said he could not release names. A mall tenant, however, identified the new retailer as T.J. Maxx.

Several stores have moved to accommodate new ones, Gibson said.

Footlocker is in a temporary home while its permanent location by Dillard's is completed. While Trudy's Hallmark is already in its new home, Mastercuts, Hibbett's Sporting Goods, Tilt and Inspiring Scents and Gifts also will move soon.

Sarah Vincent works at Inspiring Scents and Gifts. She said her store will move so that a T.J. Maxx can take up her store's space and the space next door.

Inspiring Scents and Gifts plans to be up and running in its new spot Sept. 1, but an ongoing sale will hopefully clear out merchandise beforehand.

Trudy's Hallmark moved into its new home July 1, said Donna Jones, the store's manager.

Jones said she's excited to see new things come to the mall and expects to see Hallmark's customer traffic increase with the move.

"The customer reaction has really been great," she said of the store's new location and updated look. "We're very, very happy."

One benefit of relocating is that, upon moving, companies get seemingly brand-new stores, Gibson said. The key is in shuffling people around to just the right place.

"It's like a puzzle," he said.

It's always good to see new businesses coming in, but previous economic growth never seemed to reach the mall, said Linda Fernandez, who visited the mall Friday with her family.

"We just never seem to get growth when it comes to retail," the Victoria teaching assistant said. "And even when we do get stores, a lot of times they're small ones. You still have to travel out of town to get the selection."

Fernandez didn't have any particular stores she hoped to see in town, but her grandson, 13-year-old Charlie Rosa, said he'd like to see Hollister Co. come in.

Sarah Saldivar and Ruby Burnette took a break from their work at The Buckle to grab a bite at the food court. They said they both supported the idea of new stores calling the mall home, mainly so people had more variety.

"The more the merrier," Saldivar said, noting she'd heard talk of a Charming Charlie's coming to town. "I think it's great."

New stores aren't the only things in the works.

An interior and exterior renovation is slated for 2012, Gibson said, but the plan is still in its preliminary stages. Plans are also in the works to make sure Best Buy, which is doing well in its location, can expand if necessary.

Gibson said he was confident it would all fall into place and said he expects the mall to reach 92 or 93 percent occupancy by about February.

"Victoria is doing well," he said. "Especially in this particular economy, it's unique. We're working hard."



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