MATTOON — Rural King Realty is in talks to possibly bring a Marshalls department store to the Cross County Mall, but these discussions are ongoing, and a store opening has not been confirmed.
A marketing image of the Cross County Mall, which is owned by Mattoon-based Rural King, has been circulating online with a future Marshalls location shown as being somewhere in the center of the mall between Joann Fabrics and Scotty's Brewhouse.
Sue Francis, marketing manager for Rural King, said on Friday that Rural King can confirm that it has been in discussions with TJX Companies, parent company of Marshalls, regarding joining the revitalization of the Cross County Mall.
"The marketing material released on social media by Goodman Real Estate was prepared in hopes of the relationship working out. Unfortunately, we cannot comment any further at this time, but hope to have more news to share in the coming weeks," Francis said. Rural King has no further comment on the mall at this time, she said.
The company that operates Marshalls would not confirm plans for a Mattoon location. Katie Babb, a marketing specialist with Marshalls, said the company typically does not make such announcements until fairly close to a store's opening.
The nearest Marshalls stores are located in Peoria and Springfield and in the Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago areas, according to the company's website. The company also has TJ Maxx stores in Champaign, Decatur, Terre Haute, Danville and Bloomington. The TJX company operates five different store lines, for a total of 4,000 stores in nine countries.
Cross County Mall customer Jo Torbeck of Mattoon said she enjoys visiting Marshalls stores because they offer name brand clothing at inexpensive prices, plus bedding and more. Torbeck said she wants one of these stores to open in Mattoon so it is closer to local shoppers.
"It would just be nice to be able to shop there in our hometown instead of going far away to a store," Torbeck said. She added that a new department store could help fill the void left by the closing of Carson's last year. "It was sad when Carson's went out, a shop like that would be nice for having upscale items."
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Marshall Jackson Jr., general manager for the 11 for $10 discount store that opened last year at the mall, said TJX Companies retailers are popular in the Champaign-Urbana area, where his store started.
"I think Marshalls would be a great fit for the mall and help bring traffic into the mall," Jackson said.
Cross County Mall customer Marla Rhine of Mattoon said a Marshalls would draw more shoppers to the mall with its name brand merchandise at discounted prices. Rhine said she is glad that Rural King has brought more businesses, such as Scotty's to the mall, and she hopes to see all of the storefronts there filled someday.
Rural King purchased the mall in late 2017 and moved its Mattoon store into the former Sears space in January. Scotty's opened in December. Rural King also has started holding more special events and shows there, such as the Spring Sport & Recreation Show that is ongoing through Sunday.
In February, Rural King and local officials announced that a Cross County Innovation Center for entrepreneur development will open this fall in office space at the mall with the help of $325,000 in Google grant funding.
Staff writer Dave Fopay contributed to this report.