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Mall patrons voice their wishes

Customers give their opinions as more stores closing

Pat Catan’s at the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville may be rebranding under the name Micheals. The craft store announced last month that it will be closing down all of its store, but 12 will remain open under the new name.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Yet another longtime Ohio Valley Mall store will be closing its doors for good.

Payless ShoeSource is shuttering all of its 2,100 remaining stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, joining a list of iconic names like Toys R Us and Bon-Ton that have closed down in the last year. Payless has been open in St. Clairsville for many years, having occupied a site on the perimeter of the mall before moving to its current location along the main concourse near Macy’s and Tilt Studios.

The Ohio Valley Mall has undergone numerous changes in the past few years with various businesses closing up shop and leaving customers wondering what is to come for the future.

Pat Catan’s announced last month that it will be closing all 36 of its stores soon, but 12 of those stores will be rebranded under the Michaels name. Pat Catan’s is owned by The Michaels Companies Inc. and is a large-scale craft store that has various supplies for crafting, baking and home decor. It also offers classes for people who want to be more involved in making art.

The company has not yet announced which locations will close and which will be rebranded, but Joe Bell, spokesman for mall parent Cafaro Co., said he is optimistic that the location will remain a craft store.

Payless Shoes, an affordable store for fashion needs, announces that it will be closing its doors in the Ohio Valley Mall due to Chapter 11 bankruptcy. What will go in its place is still unknown.

“The communication between Michaels and our people has been good and it looks promising that shoppers will still have a place to buy craft supplies, but it is still not 100 percent certain yet,” Bell said.

A Michaels store had been located at The Highlands in nearby Ohio County, but that store closed and has not been replaced.

Lacy Smith of St. Clairsville said she is an avid crafter who knows her way around a hot glue gun. She said she has decorated her house with things she has made and has also gifted her creations to loved ones for birthdays and Christmas.

“I’m happy about the sales, but I am sad that it looks like it is going away,” Smith said of the Pat Catan’s store at the mall.

“I do a lot of crafting, and it is a stress relief to me. I heard something about them just rebranding not too long ago and I hope it is true. Pat Catan’s is close by me, and it is where I have gotten literally all of my craft stuff. I would be really upset to see something that isn’t a craft store replace it.”

Other stores that have closed at the mall in the past few years include Toys R’ Us, Kitchen Collection, Andrews Jewelers, Zale’s, Elder-Beerman, hh gregg and Kmart, among several others. About eight storefronts are currently empty.

Jamie Zwbolski of Adena said she hopes a store will open to meet her interior design needs.

“It seems like there’s been a lot of stores closing lately. I don’t think that really has anything to do with the mall itself,” Zwbolski said. “They just keep going bankrupt for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because of online shopping, but I don’t personally care for online shopping. I like seeing things in person and you get out of the house. Making a trip to the mall to do shopping for anything is fun for me. I live out on country back roads and while I love it there, it is nice to get out of the house to go do different things.”

Indeed, industry experts predict that bankruptcies and store closures will continue through 2019 so there’s “no light at the end of the tunnel,” according to a report by Coresight Research.

Before the Payless announcement, there had been 2,187 U.S. store closing announcements this year, with Gymboree and Ascena Retail, the parent of Lane Bryant and other brands, accounting for more than half the total, according to the research firm. This year’s total is up 23 percent from the 1,776 announcements a year ago. Year-to-date, retailers have announced 1,411 store openings, offsetting 65 percent of store closures, it said.

“I just hate that it seems like the number of stores are dwindling down,” Zwbolski continued. “What I would really like to see is some sort of affordable home decor place. I know places like Marshall’s has stuff, but I’d like a place dedicated to just that. My husband and I do a lot of remodeling projects to our house, so I am always looking for different things to decorate with. I know there’s also a lot of college kids that look for places to get cheap, cute things for their dorm or apartments, too. The only good thing about these stores closing are the sales. I got a lot of stuff for my kitchen when Kitchen Collection closed.”

Leanne Wallace of Wheeling said she would like to see something come to the mall that would be entertaining when she is looking for something to do.

“I would like to see something that involves some sort of recreation or something fun for adults. Tilt is great and I am glad they put it in, but it’s aimed more for kids,” Wallace said. “I don’t know exactly what that would be. Maybe a Dave and Buster’s, which I guess is a more adult version of Tilt. My boyfriend and I are always looking for things to do when we go out on dates. I’ve heard a lot of couples say that they are just limited to the movies and dinner. A lot of people complain that the only things to do in the Ohio Valley is to eat, have drinks, and go to the movies. It would be nice if we could have another option. I don’t think that we really need another place to eat unless it’s a healthy place. We do need that around here.”

Bell said there will be an announcement soon about more businesses coming to the mall. He said he cannot release any details yet, though, due to not having agreements set in stone. He said the additional stores will cater to shopping needs of all customers in the mall.

Payless ShoeSource focuses on affordable, fashionable items such as shoes, sunglasses, purses and jewelry. The Topeka, Kansas-based chain said Friday it will hold liquidation sales starting this week and wind down its e-commerce operations. All of its stores will remain open until at least the end of March and the majority will remain open until May.

The debt-burdened chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2017, closing hundreds of stores as part of its reorganization. At the time, it had over 4,400 stores in more than 30 countries. It remerged from restructuring four months later with about 3,500 stores and eliminated moreBy MIRANDA SEBROSKI

Times Leader Staff Writer

With AP Dispatches

than $435 million in debt.

The company, founded in 1956, said that the liquidation doesn’t affect its company’s franchise operations or its Latin American stores, which remain open for business as usual. It lists 18,000 employees worldwide.

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