Hello and Happy New Year from business reporter Mary Ellen Godin with this week’s edition of Inside Local Business.
Macy’s delivered the disappointing announcement it will close its store at Westfield Meriden mall this week. The store was one of about 20 stores slated to close in the U.S. and the only one in Connecticut.
The closure confirms what remains a struggle for department stores in the age of online shopping and niche retail. It also sparked discussions on the realization that malls can no longer rely on department stores as anchors.
Westfield Meriden, which lost Sears last year, has a particular challenge because its demographic is lower income than say Westfarms, and the Waterbury Brass Mill Mall is 20 minutes away.
Filling the vacancy won’t be easy as Craig Johnson of Customer Growth Partners points out in my follow up story on the closure. Jim Boscov, CEO of Boscov’s, weighed in on his optimism for his store, the only remaining anchor, and the future of the mall in general.
Both the Sears and Macy’s buildings are owned by their respective holding companies, meaning Westfield’s role in filling the space is limited. However, as Boscov points out, Macy’s could fill quicker as the chain is not in the real estate business.
What could fill Macy’s or Sears next? It’s an open book, but possibly the store closures offer the mall an opportunity to shed the troubled department store anchor model and evolve into something that offers fresher options to the community.
Please email your thoughts on what you think would work in the anchor spaces, and what won’t, to firstname.lastname@example.org for a future story.
Downtown Wallingford vacancy
In other news, a troubled property in downtown Wallingford could be getting a new life after a sale to the new owner. Local resident Michael Terrace Jr. bought the residential and commercial building and a northern abutting property for $835,000.
“That corner is an entry point to the town center, coming from Route 5 and Quinnipiac Street,” said town economic development specialist Tim Ryan. The building at 4 Center St. housed Rubin’s Men’s Shop for more than 76 years. The clothing store closed in 1983.
In other Wallingford news, two Route 5 restaurants closed for varying reasons and hope to find new owners.
Southington gets a GameCraft Arcade and Bar in its Factory Square, an adaptive reuse of a manufacturing building. The concept was to combine retro video games with craft beers and cocktails, according to general manager Brody Marion.
The bar has 16 taps and 20 more varieties of beer in cans available. They’re from area breweries such as Two Roads, Alvarium, Back East as well as Southington brewers Skygazer and Witchdoctor Brewing.
Odds and Ends
Also, Southington might be getting its second AutoZone and in Meriden a car wash developer won a special exception to build a 4,200-square-foot car wash at 1043 Broad St. Nearby residents objected to the proposal which now heads to the city’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission.
That’s it for this week’s edition. Please continue to send your ideas and tips for future issues.