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Wilson Mall stores closing, relocating
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Wilson Mall stores closing, relocating

Businesses in the Wilson Mall will either close or move to other areas of the city by the first of the year when the mall is slated for demolition.

Hull Storey Gibson, which owns the mall, has notified business owners that they must be out of the mall by Jan. 7 when their leases end. The decision to tear down the mall — except for businesses with outside entrances — was made after years of declining business and customer traffic. Through the past several years, more and more businesses have closed or relocated to other shopping areas in the city.

The inside of the mall is left with seven businesses that will need to close or relocate. Several have announced their plans while some, including The Shoe Dept., Bath and Body Works and the Foot Locker, have not indicated what their plans are.

Carolina Outfitters, which opened in the mall about 12 years ago, is having a closing sale with items at 50 percent off or more. Jerry Taylor, owner, decided to close the business and retire instead of trying to find another location, grapple with a difficult economy and compete with the future opening of Dunham’s Sports in Wilson.

"One was the national economy and just the reduced traffic in the mall and the advent of the sporting goods store,” Taylor said. "The handwriting was on the wall for the past three years. I was hoping things would turn but they didn’t. I’m just going to get out completely.”

Carolina Outfitters will close completely in two to three weeks, after the store’s merchandise is sold.

The Hobby Shop will relocate in the Regency Plaza, next to Food Lion, on Tarboro Street. The Hobby Shop is currently having a moving sale in its mall store where it’s been located for 35 years, said Sue Furman, owner.

"The plan is to move the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve,” Furman said. "It’s scary. This is a lot of stuff to move. I’m excited and scared. Change is always scary.”

The Hobby Shop’s next location is under renovation and will provide more space and more flexibility with its hours of operation. The new location will have a game room and plenty of floor space for the store.

"We’re happy with the space,” Furman said. "We’ll be able to do midnight releases, which we couldn’t do here. I’ll do a lot more things that we can’t do here.”

Dance Studio B is also planning a move and is renovating a building, at 200 Nash St., at the corner of Goldsboro Street. Dance Studio B will likely remain in the Wilson Mall through Jan. 7, said Patricia Bradshaw, owner.

"We’re going to be moving downtown and we’re really excited about it,” Bradshaw said. 

The closing of the mall, where Dance Studio B has been for five years, is disappointing but the new location promising, she said. 

"We loved being at the mall,” she said. "It was a great location for us. We were disappointed but it’s going to work out. We’re just looking at it as a dress rehearsal for our new location.”

GNC manager Kim Baker said that the store is planned to relocate in Wilson. Baker, however, didn’t know any details about the relocation that is being handled by corporate leaders. The Beltone Hearing Care Center has already moved out of the mall and is now at 2305 Wellington Drive.

Hull Storey Gibson’s plan to demolish the Wilson Mall involves tearing down the interior of the mall and leaving two anchor stores — JCPenney and Roses — as well as the Dollar Tree, Carmike Cinemas and the K&W Cafeteria as free-standing.

Demolition of the mall is planned in early 2013 and in its place will be a grassy area that could be developed later.

Managers with the K&W Cafeteria and Roses don’t anticipate that the demolition will hurt their business. 

"There’s not much left in the mall anyway,” said Robert Phelps, K&W assistant manager. "I don’t know that it’s going to have any impact. I think our business is going to stay the same. It’s a little disappointing to see all the businesses go toward I-95 but I guess the city’s got to change.”

Mike La Bar, Roses manager, also said that the lack of mall business has been a norm so the closing isn’t expected to impact Roses very much.

"I think we’re still going to be here,” La Bar said. "I really don’t foresee it impacting Roses at all because the mall has been empty for so long that it hasn’t been a drawing card. I don’t anticipate us closing the doors. This has been a good location.”

Hull Storey Gibson, which bought the mall in 2005, spent millions of dollars to improve the mall before watching several factors, including the opening of Heritage Crossing, lead to slower customer traffic and the successive closing of many businesses. Gibson attributes the mall’s decline to the opening of Heritage Crossing and relocation of Belk from the mall to Heritage. Hull Storey Gibson has been considering an end to the inside of the mall for more than a year. | 265-7818

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And God said...

Did you ever notice the entrance of the Wilson Mall looks like QuoHog Mall on Family Guy! Wow!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:28 PM
@those were the days said...

I remember before it became a mall (barely)! It was BIG TIME when Wilson finally got a real indoor mall!!! I got many a Christmas present from that mall as a kid!!

Monday, November 19, 2012 at 2:56 PM
Those were the days said...

Who, remembers The Orange Bowl, Becky's, Shealy's Bakery, K&K Toys,Balloon Boutique, Rice Men's Shop?
Man, had some good memories at the mall when I was a teenager. Wish my children had somewhere like that to enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2012 at 1:10 PM
@to hate it said...

I agree. The overhead of keeping a mall open is staggering. You think your utilities & property taxes are high! You can't lower rent and give away stores and make money. And wow, that's the reason malls in small markets are not working. With Heritage each section is owned by different businesses/investors and its not all or nothing like a mall. Again I say business does not report to government or mall owners but shareholders. Business is there to make a profit and its pretty obvious they could not do it at the mall. Give it a rest people. Its ok that you love a mall, but don't blame its demise on anyone or government. Its not a sign of anything wrong with Wilson but cycles in business.

Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 9:00 AM
To Hate It.... said...

It is amazing that you truly believe it is as easy as someone "getting off high horse" and lowering rent. That might be the single unintelligent thing I have heard. Although it is not shocking that you and many others believe it is that easy and that the economy works that way. But........since it is so easy to fix and keep the mall open I would be glad for you to buy and maintain retail space, pay taxes and insurance, comply with environmental regulations, etc. and offer some low rent space to keep stores open at the mall, or elsewhere in Wilson. Oh and I'd like for you to go and execute leases to bring certain stores and businesses to this area too. I cannot wait for YOU to go do what you say everyone on their "high horse" should do so I can shop there. Ha........No wonder we are in as much trouble as we are.

Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 3:00 PM
@Huh said...

Supply and demand is the reason. You obviously are in the minority.
And to those who "hate it"; look around at what came to Wilson once Heritage got going. And in case many don't realize, look at the businesses out on Raleigh Road and the corporate park on Merck Road. There are a LOT of people in that area and a lot of professionals working there. The mall is gone and it was not any wrong doing by the city, rich people in Wilson, or any other prejudice thing you want to try and throw at it. Its business. Its supply and demand. Business goes where they can make a profit; plain and simple. READ AN ECONOMICS BOOK PEOPLE!

Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 9:19 AM Huh? said...

Why the heck would anyone prefer moving their car from store to store and shlepping purchases from store to store outside in the cold or rain? An indoor mall is much preferable! I don't get Heritage. I refuse to drive all the way over there unless I have no choice. Closing the mall is stupid, but demolishing it is ridiculous. The building is perfectly sound! This world is so full of imbeciles!

Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 11:38 PM MallMemories said...

I got Cooter's autograph in the Wilson Mall when I was a child. I still have it framed in my Sewing Room.

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 2:55 PM Flip it or forget it said...

The mall began to decline once Hull Storey Gibson took ownership...the property was purchased so that HSG could "fix it up" and "flip it"...the sale fell through in 2007 when a prospective buyer first wanted to buy 11 of HSG's then 18 properties then decided to only buy 6...As is obvious, NO sale ever went through...Those of us who became part of the LOCAL mall management when HSG (based in Augusta and not at the site day in and day out) took over, poured our blood, sweat and yes, tears into that property doing the best we were ALLOWED to do by corporate to recapture the spirit Parkwood(Wilson) Mall enjoyed in its heydey...and all these efforts were before AND after the aforementioned "sale" fell through...once HSG couldn't sell, the local mall management, janitorial and security staff, tenants and even the customers became the afterthought...In other words, the corporate group moved on to the next location to renovate...and might I add that those of us who were involved in mall management at that time were sent to that next location to manage there simultaneously...Then once we had completed the "tasks" for which we were needed, we were told that we were not property management material and that we were not needed any longer...All this is said to make one point, whatever the reason for Parkwood (Wilson) Mall's demise, never let it be said that those of us who were involved since HSG took the helm are not very sad that all our work, on a local level, will be demolished because of a decision made hundreds of miles from here...but it's all about money.

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 11:44 PM Hate It ! said...

I hate to see this happen but if Wilson would get off thier High Horses and stop charging HIGH RENT to these places maybe something could or would stay in Wilson and it is not going to happen by one good store coming to Wilson. It would have to be alot of stores to keep the people in Wilson to go to them otherwise they are going to go to Greenville, Raleigh and where ever esle there are good stors to shop in. That Mall use to be the Hi Light of Wilson, every weekend it would be crowded and people enjoyed that mall for many, many years. I loved it and now there is no where to go. Sure we have Target, Walmart, Penny's Belk's and a few and I mean a very few other stores but none of them have good selections at all, only a few. It is awful in Wilson now to live, it really is but who can afoord to pick up and move with the economy the way it is. If you have a job you best hang onto it and then you don't really know how long you may have that. I just hate that the City of Wilson cannot have any sort of Mall any longer. It is so nice to once in awhile be able to go to Raleigh to one of thier Mall's with so much variety in them. It really is. It is a shame Wilson. It really is. Wilson will never be anything anymore. Never! Sorry to say it but it is the truth.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 2:59 PM bright side said...

why all the doom and gloom?? Progress is a good thing. The mall is gone but not Wilson. We are the same people the same hopeful attitudes (I hope) and all cities have cycles. This time Heritage is the place to be, but in 20 years it probably will be a thing of the past as well. I don't think the demise of the mall is an example of any indication of a Wilson failure as some think. It is what it is; demand was not there for the supply. But look at what we have though out at Heritage and be very thankful for it. We could just have the old mall and nothing else. I'm willing to bet after the interior mall is gone, we might even see a surge of business in that location again.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 1:54 PM So sorry said...

I remember when my children were small what a great mall it was! Christmas and every type of store you could think of everything you needed. What I would like to know is what they put millions into?? After Tom Corbett left it began to decline.. the management, no incentives for new businesses, or to keep those there. Yes, heritage hurt it, but long before the decline of the economy it went way down. Someone did not know what they were doing, and I hate it, I also agree with the way they put the Movie theatre upfront and sideways.... poor planning.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 9:34 AM duh said...

Yes, anyone can shop at Heritage. Why would you think they can't?? I wear professional clothes, play golf, work out, run, mountain biking, eat, etc. I find all my stuff right there at Heritage and manage to eat there as well. And please show us facts where incentives are not the right thing to do in order to help draw in business? I bet you are one of those people who is the first to criticize the town if they don't bring in business and the first to find fault when they do. If you don't like it, move. But I hate to tell you that every city the size of Wilson and larger has incentive packages.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 9:04 AM Fashionista said...

@@@ actual true fact
A style for all audiences is called a uniform.
If you don't like the styles in the store you are in, go to another store, which sounds like what you and many others did.
That's the way this all works. The market has spoken.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 7:03 AM @Actual True Fact said...

You can tell you're uneducated on this matter. Research the facts before making an statement that makes you look stupid. Politics and shareholders play the big part on busniness coming to Wilson or not. I know for a fact that Bestbuy was trying to come here in 2002, and TGI Fridays was trying to come here in 2007. All Wilson had to do was pay the % of sewage fees and it would had happen but certain Lawyers stepped in..

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 5:15 AM Well..... said...

Who is going to pay for the civic center?...oh yeah that's right i have forgotten that we now have unlimited money and can just make people buy anything they want. Get the money up and do it since it's such a noble idea and would somehow save retail.?.?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 5:58 PM Actual True Fact said...

"Ghetto" clothes? What's that all about? There was plenty of variety in clothing for sale at the mall. That remark just proves what I said about "demographics" being a code word for the attitudes around here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 5:23 PM MyHome said...

Too bad the indoor space can't be used as a safe place for teens to hang out, or indoor parking for the remaining stores.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 4:57 PM @@@actual said...

Your first comment was about Heritage and I was referring to Heritage, not the mall. And yes, anyone can shop Heritage. Why so bitter? EVERY city gives business incentives; why do you think the city should not have given Heritage any incentives?? heck look at all the mess with the Chicken Plant over incentives in Nash county. Time to get out from under your rock and enjoy what we have here instead of casting stones at it. Malls are a thing of the past in small cities; its just a fact not based on race as you would like to think.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 4:07 PM History said...

The Wilson mall should get a grant and be preserved as a historic structure. It's more historic than most of the other so-called historic properties here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 2:27 PM @ @actual true fact said...

Really? Any one can shop there? I'm sure my daughter would look real cute in GHETTO clothes! NOT happening! Sure, I can shop around the mall (i.e. JCP/Roses)...but as for inside the mall, all the stores were geared towards a specific or white, pink or wasn't a style that was for all audiences!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 9:53 AM @actual true fact said...

Demographic studies were completed by Target, Harris Teeter, Best Buy, Olive Garden, on and on. There were teams of people who came to Wilson LONG before they ever committed to moving here. Newsflash: business does not answer to government but shareholders. Maybe you should look up a few facts before making a comment. I went to Heritage last night & I think I saw every race in Wilson represented. And incentives are essential in drawing in business; nothing wrong with see what we have now right? Think we got a good return. Sounds like you are just a prejudice person who likes to cast blame. No one is holding back any race from shopping there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 8:30 AM Well......... said...

If the Kroger building had been remodeled into a civic center, the mall may not of had to close.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 7:39 AM Old Timer said...

Where are all the old folks going to go to take
their walks now in a secure environment?
I used to joke that if they charged folks to walk
around the mall when the weather is bad they could
at least pay the electric bill.
3 x around now = 1 mile won't mean much anymore.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 6:44 PM @me said...

According to employees in rocky mount bath and body works will not relocate but close

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 6:16 PM Actual True Fact said...

A "demographic" reason? Was there a "demographic" reason for giving incentives to Heritage?
I think we know "demographic" is a code word for something else around here. It's race. There, I said it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 5:42 PM KH said...

I loved the mall. My mom and I would wander around the stores and look for special buys. Those were special times and we just enjoyed meandering and looking at all of the merchandise. I have been to Heritage only 2 times since they opened and that was because we had out of state company who wanted to shop a bit. I hate to see the mall torn down and another empty lot in Wilson. So sad.....It used to be so enjoyable at Christmas to see Santa and have school children singing. It was so beautifully decorated and the stroll indoors put you in the holiday spirit. The Grinch has definitely stolen a part of Wilson's spirit.
It is just so very sad.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 5:06 PM @love mall shopping said...

Its not a myth but reality. You do know the Wilson Mall is being torn down right? That's an example of reality. I do not shop in Rocky Mt but Heritage. Heritage is the reason I don't shop in Rocky Mt or Raleigh most of the time; nothing to do with the mall. You can put those same stores in a mall, and it would fail in Wilson. There is a demographic reason why the stores are in the Heritage area. They could have easily located at the mall or over on 301 much cheaper but they didn't. There is your reason and reality. You can't tell business where they will locate; they locate where they have the most chance of making a profit for their shareholders. Give it 20 years and you'll see Heritage no longer making it and another movement will happen. Its just life and business.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 3:18 PM the mall said...

Malls arent a thing of the past, the problem is the area. Wilson isnt a big city its a small town that retailers arent going to come to. I mean for goodness sakes if Kmart wouldnt make it here then Macys sure as heck wouldnt!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 2:41 PM Tabron said...

I remember back in the days also around 1995 and 1997 the mall was jumping, I remember my friends and I eating at Tonys pizza then leaving there going to the skating ring and also can't forget the game room now that was the good ol days, that time is way gone and they have left the game room and other stores like Style Setters the mall would have some business.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 1:57 PM Love mall shopping said...

It's a real shame to see the mall close after all these years and to see it being torn down. I do not believe the popular "myth" that malls are a thing of the past. I do believe however, that if more was done to attract stores that customers wanted to shop in, then the mall would have succeeded. Just another reason for Wilson shoppers to go to Rocky Mount and Raleigh to spend our money. I, for one, do not enjoy shopping when I have to out of stores into bad weather just to go to another store, so I will gladly drive 30 or 45 minutes to shop in an enclosed mall.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 1:12 PM said...

Bath and Body Works - PLEASE relocate. Do not leave Wilson!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 11:17 AM shopper said...

J C Penny will be next to close

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 9:25 AM love shopping said...

The location or the economy had nothing to do with my decision to longer shop in the mall, it had to do with the stores available to shop. They declined way before the economy or Heritage Crossing. If you want me to spend my money, put stores in place that are popular. The stores that have been in place for the last 5-10 years were generated towards specific buyers, not a place for everyone to enjoy shopping. I have a lot of good memories of our mall growing up (who didn't have fun at the arcade in it's prime - lol), sad to see it go, but hopefully more modern stores will come! P.S. I would love to see "younger" stores come such as geared towards teenagers clothes, baby clothes, modern business styles for women, etc...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 8:31 AM me... said...

I hope Bath & Body Works relocates here in Wilson. It is my favorite store and I go there all the time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 8:19 AM shortsighted said...

Hull Storey Gibson said "Gibson attributes the mall’s decline to the opening of Heritage Crossing and relocation of Belk from the mall to Heritage." Almost EVERYONE in the community told them it was a bad idea (other than the economic council) and that Belk and Sears were probably going to leave. That was discussed long before Gibson bought the mall. And they spent millions based on what study? Hope?? Surprised they are still in business at all. The Movie Theater also was put in the wrong place lured by city incentives. Now you got what you got. No surprise and no news really. We discussed the future demise of the mall on these very comments when Gibson made the purchase. Ta Da!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 8:14 AM ??? said...

So long mall. I remember years ago when me and my friends would ride around the mall for hours on the weekends. That was like 1986-1990 when it was to me at it's peak. A lot of good times out there but I gues time chnages as well as people. In Wilson it seems a lot of the people here don't want changes, good that is, only for themselves..

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 5:00 AM
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