By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) — More stores are on their way out of the Valdosta mall, and some shoppers are sad to say goodbye.
PacSun and New York and Company are closing their doors as more and more shoppers turn to the internet.
On Wednesday, Miranda and Cassidy walked by the mall after getting their nails done. The two said they’ve already made the switch to online retail.
“I personally do more online shopping. It’s just easier, especially in this day and age, working all the time. I do more online shopping just because there’s more of a selection,” the two said.
Local business leaders said “Store closing and “Everything must go” signs are popping up from coast to coast, and Valdosta is no exception.
“Online shopping has just changed the entire retail landscape,” said Myrna Ballard, President of Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce. “This is just today’s economy. But what we can do is to focus on those homegrown entrepeneurs that are likely to be much more invested in the local community, much more likely to want to stay and grow in the area.”
The Chamber said with these doors closing, there’s a new push to open new ones. 75 percent of Lowndes County businesses are locally owned.
“I think nation wide we’ll continue to see closing of big box stores,” Ballard said. “What we need to focus on in our community is helping ourselves and building our own.”
As the trend continues, some Valdosta shoppers said saying goodbye is tough because it’s about more than just the stores.
“It’s definately emotional because that was like our childhood, I guess. It’s like going to the mall, especially back in my prime,” Miranda said.
“It is fun to go and meet up with people and hang out and chill, get away from technology,” said shopper Courtney Kullman.
Officials with the Valdosta mall said Dallas Wayne Boot Company is set to expand into the New York and Company space. The mall’s leasing team is also working to fill the PacSun space. Officials added it’s an opportunity to convert underperforming space in to fresh, new retail.
The mall is also in the process of starting a pop-up shop. The initiative provides local start up businesses to set up in the mall with no long term commitment.
The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce is working on a Small Business Incubator to help generate locally owned start ups in the city at a low cost. Organizers hope to have that up and running next year.