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Muncie Mall: Is It Sustainable For The Future?

By Chris Hatfield, IPR News | Published on in Business, Community, Local News
Carson's is one of several anchor stores the Muncie Mall has lost, thanks to national trends. (Photo: Google Maps)

After losing two anchor stores to national declines in sales, some in Muncie are questioning whether the Muncie Mall is relevant in today’s retail world.  One of those empty stores has transformed into a gathering place for small, local vendors once a month.  But as IPR’s Chris Hatfield reports, one former local business owner doesn’t see that as a sustainable business model.

The Muncie Mall opened its doors for the first time in 1970, nearly 50 years ago.  But much has changed since then.  Store closures last year left JCPenney’s and Macy’s as the only anchor stores.

Susan Danner has owned multiple independent bookstores in the Muncie area over the years.  She says, in the beginning, big name stores the mall brought to Muncie led to a decline in independent business.

“It really took away the feeling of our town.  We had never been a huge town like Chicago or Indianapolis, but yet we had a feeling that, well, Muncie was Middletown.”

Now, Danner says the resurgence of independent business in recent years shows those small shops can provide comfort for shoppers.

“I think people began to feel like ‘Hmm, you know, maybe we need to go back to somebody we know, someone we trust, and maybe we don’t have to go out there to that mall anymore.’”

According to Coresight Research, retailers have announced over 2,000 store closures across the country since the start of the year.

And a Credit Suisse report in 2017 predicted up to a quarter of the country’s more than 1,000 malls would close within five years.

The owners of Muncie Mall, Washington Prime Group, could not be reached for comment on this story.