Wilson, N.C. — At the Wilson Mall on Friday, employee Annie Holden was sweeping up what’s left of Christmas.
Santa Claus is gone, along with many of the stores that once attracted holiday shoppers.
Wilson's only indoor mall is closing for good Monday. Hull Storey Gibson Companies, which owns the property, said it will be redeveloped into a traditional shopping center.
“Due to other recent retail developments in Wilson, the enclosed mall format is no longer sustainable,” the company said in a statement. “We have determined that by eliminating the part of the property that is no longer viable, the remaining tenants will benefit.”
The last tenants – including JC Penney, Dollar Tree and Carmike Theater – will stay open during the redevelopment, the company said.
Holden worked at the mall for four years and shopped there for 30. She said the mall has been a part of the community, and she's sad to see it go.
Employee Jessica Finch's first job was at the mall, and it's been a staple of her resume ever since.
“I've worked at JC Penney, Style Center, Foot Locker, Steve and Barry’s – stores have come and gone,” she said. “It’s been dead for a while. “It’s basically like an indoor walking section for older people.”
Margaret Eatmon and Kenneth Bissette walk the mall when the weather outside turns cold and unpleasant.
“I will miss walking out here because of the friendships I’ve made out here and the exercise I get,” Eatmon said.
The Hobby Shop was a 30-year tenant of the mall. Owner Sue Ferman closed the doors Dec. 26 and reopened at a strip mall a mile away.
She said she feels like she’s lost a family.
“We saw it coming,” Ferman said. “We’d been looking for a new location, but the finality is kind of hard.”
The mall owners are hopeful the redevelopment plan will work.
“Wilson Mall is situated in a highly trafficked location that is only a stone’s throw from the Wilson Medical Center between downtown businesses and residential neighborhoods,” the company said. “By investing in the redevelopment of the property we are confident that it will become a viable, modern and pleasant destination for shopping, dining and entertainment.”