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home : news : e-news April 10, 2020

3/18/2017 9:38:00 PM
J.C. Penney Will Close At Eastridge Mall
J.C. Penney opened its store at Eastridge Mall in 1976 as one of the original anchor tenants.  It moved to its current location in 1997.  The store will close this summer according to a Friday announcement.(Lincoln Herald Staff Photos)
J.C. Penney opened its store at Eastridge Mall in 1976 as one of the original anchor tenants.  It moved to its current location in 1997.  The store will close this summer according to a Friday announcement.

(Lincoln Herald Staff Photos)
Belk is the only original anchor store left at Eastridge. While renovations have moved other stores including J.C. Penney, Belk has maintained its spot on the north end of the mall where it moved from downtown Gastonia when the mall opened.
Belk is the only original anchor store left at Eastridge. While renovations have moved other stores including J.C. Penney, Belk has maintained its spot on the north end of the mall where it moved from downtown Gastonia when the mall opened.

+ view more photos
Dillard's is now located on the south end
of the mall where J.C. Penney was
originally located.  It opened as Ivey's
on the back side (east) of the mall in 1976.


Wayne Howard
Staff Writer



It is the nature of business that things change. Today's most popular stores will almost certainly be replaced by others as time goes by. It has always happened--and it will likely continue.

J.C. Penney announced Friday (March 17th) that it is closing 138 stores including six in North Carolina. One of them is the store at Eastridge Mall in Gastonia.

The company said it expected annual savings of about $200 million from cost-cutting measures.

All the stores should be closed in the second quarter of 2017.

The chain's annual sales of $12.6 billion are almost $7 billion lower than a decade ago.

The company said the stores being closed generate less than 5 percent of its total annual sales, and the company wants to focus on improving locations with the most potential.

"Our decision to close stores will allow us to raise the overall brand standard of the company and allocate capital more efficiently," Penney CEO Marvin Ellison said when the company announced last month that it would be closing 130-140 stores this year.

The Gastonia store is one of six to close in North Carolina. The others are in Albemarle, Boone, Hendersonville, Monroe and Roanoke Rapids.

Eastridge Mall management expressed confidence that it would find a replacement for the J.C. Penney store located on the front of the mall facing New Hope Road.

J.C. Penney is the second of the four original anchor stores to close at Eastridge. Sears closed on the mall's back side two years ago. Dillard's--originally Ivey's--and Belk remain at the northern and southern ends of the mall.

The mall has gone through some other changes. Originally opened in 1976 on the site of the former Rhyne Dairy Farm, the mall was built by Carlson Real Estate of Minneapolis. In 1984 a second owner took over. In 1999 it was put up for sale and purchased by Australian-based Westfield America Trust in 2002. They changed the official name to Westfield Shoppingtown Eastridge. CityView Commercial, a New York firm bought Eastridge Mall in 2013 and changed the name back to Eastridge Mall.

J.C. Penney wasn't always on the front of the mall. It was originally on the south end. In 1997, a new 104,000 J.C. Penney store was built and Dillard's, formerly Ivey's, moved to the south end in 1998 after a major renovation. Sears moved from a West Franklin Boulevard location to the east side of the mall where Ivey's (Dillard's) had been located. Sears closed that store in 2014.



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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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