For most of its early history, Eastridge enjoyed the same shopping pattern as other malls across the country. Malls had become the place where people shopped--especially for major holidays like Christmas. That, of course, has changed with time. Many once popular malls have closed; among them Eastland Mall in Charlotte. Others have had to adapt new ideas to continue attracting customers.
At Eastridge, a new policy is scheduled to take effect March 31st requiring teenagers 17 and under to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian on Friday and Saturday nights at the shopping center.
Eastridge isn't the only place in Gastonia where there is an empty space once occupied by a major retailer. The former K-Mart location at Franklin Square in east Gastonia is still empty with no real prospect in sight.
Even Walmart, the nation's and world's largest retailer, is having to adjust to the times. Superstores were one major change--and with them, Walmart has also become the world's #1 supermarket.
J.C. Penney recently began selling appliances at some of its stores to expand its appeal to attract a bigger customer base.
Other major chains have also announced closings of stores, among them Macy's.
Recently, feeling the pinch from online sales, Walmart adopted a new free delivery policy on larger online purchases in an effort to combat Amazon.
Eastridge may actually employ an idea that has been successful for some downtowns fighting to survive. The downtowns are trying to establish a built-in market for retailers by creating housing on second stories and nearby locations within easy walking distance of store locations.
In the case of Eastridge, there have been talks about trying to lure a hotel to open in the space currently occupied by J.C. Penney.
Not far from both the mall and Franklin Square where K-Mart was located is evidence of the changing nature of retail in every form. Right next door to a location recently closed by Applebee's, a new Wild Wings Cafe is under construction.
Things keep changing. Yesterday's winners are today's losers or runners-up as new ideas take their place. It has always been that way--and that is not likely to change.
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