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Letter: Closing of Penney's, other mall businesses is sad

By Joanie (Kolander) Nelson, Okabena

This letter to the editor is in regard to the news that J .C. Penney Co. in the Northland Mall will be closing. I’m sure that I’m not the only resident in our surrounding area that is disappointed in such news.

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I understand that the company had to make this decision with regard to economic conditions in Minnesota, and the United States. If a store is not doing well, after many changes, the possibility of closure is very real.

As a child, I shopped with my mother and grandmother, in the Penney’s store that was located downtown in the now Carpet Plus store. We bought shoes, clothes, bedding, towels and our other household items. All under one roof. It was a great day when we were going to Worthington shopping.

I went on to work for the J. C. Penney Co. Inc. Regional Accounting Offices in Minneapolis. I was part of the Span Payroll Department that first paid employees electronically in this region. I know firsthand some of the changes that took place locally and at the regional offices to improve that store over the years. Some things worked, and some did not. (I didn’t like it when they took the bedding department out of the mall location six months ago. I don’t think that was a positive move).

I can’t help but wonder if the Chamber of Commerce and Worthington City Council could have done more to prevent the closing of the Penney’s store and all the other retailers that have left that Mall in the past 20 years or so. It’s hard for a lot of people in our area to understand why a city as large as Worthington could not keep local and large retailers in our community.

I’ve worked retail for many years, and many people in Worthington will know who I am. That mall has been declining for more years than I can remember. Now it is not only an eyesore, but it is completely non-functioning. You can’t blame residents for not wanting to step inside to shop. For the past several years my husband and I have only attended the theater there. (No stores left that we could shop for our current needs). But now, we frequent another theater because it is cleaner, more modern and frankly more inviting.

What is it going to take to change things around the mall area? Frankly, I’d like to see it bulldozed and something different put up. I know I have no answers, but I’m so disappointed in how the city let things get so bad.

Although I do shop at ShopKo and Walmart, I’m very disgusted that we are now forced to shop there now exclusively. Is there anything that we can do to improve this awful situation?