Retail roundup

Checking in on the Chico Mall, plus what stores might go the way of Circuit City this year?

As we head into the holiday season (yes, I know, it’s too soon!), retail businesses start to ramp up their sales and advertising to pull up their bottom lines. There’s always a bit of action around this time, with openings and closings, and since I haven’t taken the pulse of the retail market lately, I took this week to get caught up.

I got word that H&M is moving into the Chico Mall. Of course, with Forever 21 leaving, there will be a niche to fill there—Sweden-based H&M specializes in clothing, and also features men’s styles. The new store will only be about 15,000 square feet, much smaller than the current Forever 21 footprint, so my guess is the mall is going forward with dividing that anchor space into multiple stores. (Spokeswoman Lynette Myers said she couldn’t divulge the plan for H&M.)

I came to that conclusion after perusing a map of the mall on the website of its parent company, Ethan Conrad. It shows the Forever 21 space divided into three spots and, curiously, Planet Fitness in the back quarter or so of the food court. Some other indicators as to what the mall’s up to came up at the city Architectural Review and Historic Preservation Board meeting earlier this month. It’s hoping to erect a big, lighted sign visible from Highway 99, and on the sample marquee: H&M, Planet Fitness, HomeGoods and Petco (which would presumably move from its spot by Barnes & Noble). No love for any of the current tenants, I guess!

More musings Turns out a number of big retailers have announced store closings this year, and many of them have locations in Chico. Here’s the quick and the dirty, according to Moneywise.

We all know Kmart has been struggling for a while now. Chico may get a reprieve because the Paradise store is still shuttered, but for how long is anyone’s guess. Women’s clothing store Chico’s will be closing at least 250 stores over the next three years. CVS and Walgreen’s are both closing stores—46 and 200, respectively. GameStop will be closing 200 stores, as it struggles to compete with downloadable games. Pier 1 Imports announced it’ll close 140 stores, and Bed, Bath & Beyond 60. Other struggling stores to keep an eye on: Office Depot, Lowe’s and Victoria’s Secret.

These are all big companies, but at least they employ local folks. So, when it comes to holiday shopping, remember that—and that sales tax dollars stay in our community—and when you’re not shopping mom-n-pops, at the very least keep your money in town.

Leaving the station At its last regular meeting Oct. 15, the Chico City Council approved amending the lease agreement for the train depot to allow other uses for the railcar out front. Apparently Great Northern Coffee Co. isn’t making enough money for the Chico Art Center, which runs the space. It’s a shame—the ambiance was quirky and fun. I look forward to seeing how they reimagine it.