Official: Despite changing times, business is healthy at Crabtree Valley Mall

Posted February 6, 2019 6:21 p.m. EST
Updated February 7, 2019 11:05 a.m. EST

— The amount of retail outlets shutting their doors is breaking records nationwide. Many malls are dying off - with 105 million square feet closing in 2017.

In the Triangle, there are uncertain futures for Cary Towne Center and Durham's Northgate Mall.

First losing Macy's, followed by Sears, IKEA, JCPenney, and now under new ownership, Cary Towne Center has been experiencing a downward spiral.

In December, it was announced that the Rand family, which built Northgate Mall in Durham, in the late 1950s, had agreed to sell the struggling center to a private equity fund.

For one reason or another, Crabtree Valley Mall says it won't be among these stats.

"People still come to malls. They want to be able to try it on, see how it looks in person, you know," said Carver Hutchison, who works at Crabtree.

The mall’s corporate management says business is healthy.

"We have high volumes of traffic, and sales are good, but what we don't want to do is not evolve with the times," said Brian Asbill, Crabtree's corporate marketing director.

The next step for Crabtree is to make the mall more of a destination, just as much as it is a shopping space.

"Entertainment centers, open air spaces, green spaces, all of that's important to people nowadays. All of that is part of our consideration as we move forward and reconsider Crabtree," said Asbill.

Part of that transformation will focus on the space vacated by Sears last year.

"Nine months ago or so, we bought back the Sears space. We did that so we could get ahead of the curve," Asbill said.

The plans for the empty space are endless opportunity, according to the mall's management.

"We're looking at everything. It's all on the table," he said.

So do shoppers think Crabtree will make it out of the other side of the mall decline?

"If they keep offering a competitive product, keep in nice and clean and safe, I don't see why not," Kevin Cheek, who shops at Crabtree, said.