MATTOON -- The Cross County Mall lost its central anchor store last weekend with the closure of Carson’s, which shut down as part of its parent company’s bankruptcy and liquidation.
However, the Cross County Mall is still scheduled to gain a new anchor store in a little more than four months when property owner Rural King moves its Mattoon store into the east end of this facility.
Blake Pierce, director of real estate for Mattoon-based Rural King, said the company plans to open this new location in the former Sears space at the mall in mid-January. Renovations have been underway there for several weeks.
Pierce said the Rural King store will fit into this currently vacant space, but the company is still figuring out the best way to display and house its large assortment of outdoor merchandise at the Cross County Mall.
The Mattoon store is currently located at 4216 Dewitt Ave., a site that is home to Rural King's headquarters and distribution center. Rural King announced plans in July to expand its headquarters at the Dewitt building after the store relocates, while keeping distribution there.
Rural King will be joined at the east end of the Cross County Mall by Scotty’s Brewhouse. Pierce said this chain restaurant is scheduled to open on Dec. 1 in long vacant space next on the west side of the east entrance to the mall. Renovations are also underway there.
Marshall Jackson Jr., general manager for the new 11 for $10 discount store at the mall, said this online retailer relocated its sole storefront location from the Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana to the Cross County Mall because it likes Rural King’s development plans there.
“Rural King seems like they have a lot of good things planned for the mall and we want to be a part of it,” Jackson said. He added that, “We are excited about Scotty’s and Rural King moving in.”
Jackson said 11 for $10, which is still adding merchandise to its store, appreciates that Rural King has been a good landlord and is building upon the big flea markets and other special events that are held at the mall.
“A lot of malls are not as proactive as Rural King. They have been really proactive for us,” Jackson said.
The Mattoon Chamber of Commerce is scheduled to use the mall once again as a venue for its annual Business Expo, which is scheduled for Oct. 4. This will be the first Business Expo there since Rural King completed its acquisition of the mall in November.
Chamber Executive Director Ed Dowd said registration has increased to 56 exhibitors and 14 food vendors this year, one of the biggest recent totals. He credited this increase to the success of the expo as a networking event and to excitement about the mall’s new local ownership.
Pierce said Rural King will hold a companywide store managers meeting this fall in the former Sears space. Rural King operates more than 100 stores in a 13-state area. He said the company will move its meetings to other spaces in the mall after the Rural King store opens there.
Regarding the Carson’s space, Pierce said Rural King plans to clear out the remaining display cases there and market it to prospective tenants. He said the company is also marketing other available spaces at the mall, including the space where Super Jumbo Buffet recently closed.
Dowd noted the shuttering of the Mattoon Carson’s was part of store closings nationwide by now-defunct parent company Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. He said sales at the Mattoon Carson’s were as good as or better than the bigger Champaign store, something that prospective tenants will consider.
In addition, Dowd said efforts to market the Carson’s space will benefit from property owner Rural King being a multi-state retailer. He said this will give Rural King added credibility with prospective retail tenants.
“I think they are going to have a golden opportunity to recruit potentially a large retailer,” Dowd said. “I have a feeling it’s not going to stay empty long.”
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