By SHELLEY TERRY - firstname.lastname@example.org
ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the square, the place was so empty, nobody’s there!
The Christopher & Banks store at Ashtabula Towne Square will close Dec. 24, store clerks confirmed Tuesday.
It is closing stores to cut costs as it struggles to improve earnings, according to Christopher & Banks Corp. in Minneapolis, Minn.
This is the third hit this year for the mall as Fashion Bug is going out of business in January, Sears vacated the mall in June and Payless ShoeSource walked out in April.
Fashion Bug, a mainstay of moderately priced women clothing, is closing all of its stores. It was not a local decision nor was it because of the local economy, but rather a nationwide move, store officials said in September when the closing was announced.
While not considered an “anchor store” at the mall, Christopher & Banks is a popular women’s clothing store, and now, it’s closing for reasons outside of the mall.
The next closest Christopher & Banks stores are in Mentor or Erie, Pa.
The store is in the middle of a holiday sale, the clerk said, and has no immediate plans for clearance sales.
The mall, which is celebrating 20 years this month, started to struggle about a decade a go when Phar-Mor closed. Shoppers then watched as Finish Line, Old Navy, King’s Jewelry, Zales, Ruby Tuesdays, Wendy’s, Waldenbooks, Claire’s, Dillard’s, Yum Yum Tree, Steve & Barry’s, Spencer Gifts, Bruno Brothers Pizza, New Orient Express and the arcade closed.
Most recently, the mall has gone into receivership and seemed to have attracted a few local businesses into the empty spaces.
Ashtabula Township trustee Bambi Paulchel said there is a county committee that meets once a month, and whose top priority is the mall.
“This town needs shopping, but with the economy like it is here, the make up of the mall is changing,” she said. “We have to stop looking at it like losing retail. Our hopes are it’s not going to be empty, but rather a positive change.”
The mall has the capacity to hold 70 stores, but only holds a little more than 30 today.
The stores that remain are: Super Kmart, Sears Auto Center, E.B & Company, Fashion Bug (until the end of January), Deb, Ash/Craft Garden Shoppe, Bath Fitter, GNC, MasterCuts, Bath & Body Works, Hallmark, Buy Sell & Trade, Cinema Six Theater, GameStop, Nuff Stuff Gifts, Kitchen Collection, JCPenney, JB Robinson Jewelers, Kay Jewelers, Piercing Pagoda, JoAnn Fabrics, KC’s Kitchen, Hollywood Nails, Intermessage Comm, Verizon, Blue Dragon, Shoe Dept., Dunham’s Sports, Esther’s Sports Cards & Collectibles, Radio Shack and the Pretzelmaker/Great American Cookie.