Local property broker says mall must adjust to survive

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Another store is closing at the Charleston Town Center Mall, joining a trend in recent weeks of other businesses.

Victoria’s Secret announced Tuesday it will close Sunday, Jan. 17. Four other stores announced in December they were closing in January.

Appearing on Tuesday’s 580-LIVE on 580-WCHS, commercial property broker in Charleston, Howard Swint says the shopping industry evolving online has been a factor to the mall’s demise.

“Online shopping, e-commerce. Economies associated with the Amazons and likes were disruptive technology and economic progression that resulted in brick and mortar retail stores being hammered by online shopping,” Swint said.

Sephora, a cosmetics retailer, closed its free-standing location in the mall on Jan. 3. Talbots, Chico’s and White House/Black Market will all be closing later this month.

The mall is down to one anchor store, JC Penney, following the closures of Macy’s and Sears.

Swint admitted the mall is headed in a dangerous direction but leaders must step up and avoid it going dark.

“Who is going to put the money into it once it goes dark? By the way, you get into the HVAC, mechanical issues associated with the 40-year old building, no one is going to touch it,” he said.

“When it went to auction two years ago, the only bid came from the bank that was backstopping its $93 million loan.”

Swint said the best direction the facility can go in is to feature it as a destination. He mentioned how certain malls have used space for aquatic centers, skating rinks, etc.

“It’s all about creating foot traffic. You have to get folks into the facility and into the stores if you want the retail stores that are there to survive but you have to draw them in,” Swint said.