In the wake of news that Findlay’s Sears Roebuck and Co. store is closing, most of its neighbors interviewed Wednesday are worried about the future of Findlay Village Mall.
Most, but not all, were surprised by the news Sears will be closing in mid-April as part of a restructuring by corporate headquarters. They have seen smaller stores come and go and vacant storefronts multiply. Now one of the anchors will be leaving.
“It’s going to affect the mall … It’s got to affect the mall,” said a store manager who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The mall’s dying anyways. Have you looked?”
Others, like Maurices Store Manager Dara Allsup, shrugged off the news of the coming Sears departure.
“It just makes room for bigger, better. Maybe we can attract … a bigger T.J. Maxx, or perhaps a Target or something else. Old Navy,” she said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily a negative. I think it’s, ‘Move over and let someone else come in, a bigger dog, somebody else that’s more competitive.’ It could happen.”
Sears has been an anchor with JC Penney and Elder-Beerman, but the mall will go on without it, according to Allsup.
“People that shop our stores are still coming to shop our stores regardless of whether Sears is here,” she said. “Sears was not the attraction for my customer. That’s not going to stop them from seeing me.”
Sears’ strong suit has been appliances, snowblowers and hardware, but its clothing fashions have been wanting, Allsup said. Yet 68 percent of the store is apparel, she estimated.
“The fashion end of it is where I think they struggle the most … Even me as a consumer walking in, there’s nothing in there that appeals to me to make me stop and shop,” Allsup said. “I’ve felt that way for over the last five years, and I’m old, so how much are the young people … They don’t even think of Sears.”
Others draw a closer link between the fates of Sears and the mall.
One store manager who spoke on condition of anonymity said she was not surprised about the Sears closing “because the mall’s not busy.”