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Greeley Mall sees another loss with Corral West closing
[December 10, 2008]

Greeley Mall sees another loss with Corral West closing

(Greeley Tribune (CO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dec. 10--Another Greeley Mall mainstay will soon close its doors, leaving a gaping hole on the east end of the 35-year-old mall.

Liquidation signs outside the Corral West Ranchwear store, which has been at the Greeley Mall for at least 20 years, are advertising the store's closure.

The closure comes a month after the Regency Hallmark owners Don and Connie Jetter announced they would close their store, which they had operated for 32 years just across the way. Dillards, which also was on that end of the mall, closed earlier this spring.

Since 2006, businesses have left the mall in a slow exodus, starting with The Gap in 2005, then American Eagle in 2006. Gart Sports, which operated a store on the mall property east of the main mall, closed in December 2004.

The crushing blow came this past spring when the owners of Dillards announced it would close both of its stores, also in the east end of the mall.

The departures are likely strong signs of the times.

General Growth Properties, which owns the Fort Collins Mall and was the No. 2 mall operator in the country, recently filed for bankruptcy, according to CNN Money. The Fort Collins Mall, for example, is still reeling from the losses of Mervyn's and JC Penney; B. Dalton and Hallmark both are closing in January, as well.

Mall vacancies have increased by the most since early 2002, CNN Money reported, as shoppers opted for bargain stores closer to home.

Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group, predicted for CNN Money just weeks ago that no more than 38 percent of Americans will even walk into a mall this holiday season -- and that wasn't to say the ones who did would spend money. And ShopperTrak, which tracks mall traffic, predicted sales would fall as much as 10 percent this year, according to CNN Money.

Sarah MacQuiddy, president of the Greeley Chamber of Commerce, said the loss of yet another mall store is disconcerting.

"It's just a sign of the times," she said. "Quite honestly, there are several retailers in town saying they have adequate starts to the holiday season, and some say it's very challenging. This is a time to hope that people will get out there" and shop.

While the Jetters blamed faltering mall traffic for its closure, Corral West's closure came more from a corporate bankruptcy.

"We do feel for our regular customers. ... It has nothing to do with the mall, or this store individually," said Sandy Moffitt, who has been the manager of Corral West for the past five years. "We do feel for those that are going to be affected. We send our sympathies to our staff and community. We know its going to be a void in the community."

The closure means 12 employees will be out of work, including Moffitt.

The closure comes after a bankruptcy of the store's parent company, BTWW, which merged with Corral West in January 2007. BTWW filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, according to wire reports.

Meanwhile, California-based Boot Barn Holding Corp. has bought 14 Corral West stores, including 12 in Wyoming and two in Nevada; they will be renamed as Boot Barns. In all, Boot Barn this year acquired 45 stores from BTWW. The purchases did not include any of the 14 Colorado Corral West locations. A total of 79 stores are liquidating across the former franchise.

Moffitt said there is no firm closing date for Corral West at the Greeley Mall. Across the way, Hallmark will close by the end of January at the latest.

MacQuiddy urged residents to put the news in perspective.

"As a community, we have to remember Greeley is not in this alone," MacQuiddy said. "Many communities are experiencing similar if not devastating effects and we've been somewhat insulated. ... I know the Greeley Mall is actively working to recruit new retailers, and from what we hear, there has been positive interest shown."

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