BRISTOL, Va. - More businesses announce they will be closing their doors at the nearly vacant Bristol Mall. With the recent announcements, by next month there will only be four stores left.
News 5 was at the mall one month ago, when a sign was posted on the window of Gamestop. The sign says the store will remain open at that location. But that has changed. Gamestop, a video game and electronic store, is the most recent store to shut down its location at the Bristol Mall. According to Misty Mountain Designs Facebook Page, it will close its Bristol Mall location Saturday night, but its State Street location will remain open.
Once Sears, the Mall's only anchor store, closes in March, only Bath and Body Works, KSS School Supplies, Bounce Bristol and Belmeade Formal Wear will still be in business at the mall.
The mall was at capacity with more than 60 stores just three years ago. News 5's Kristi O'Connor shows us how one business has managed to thrive inside the struggling Bristol Mall.
The Pinnacle in Bristol, Tenn. is bustling with shoppers eager to catch a Presidents' Day sale.
"Presidents' Day, it's a holiday, I'm off," Shopper Lynda Edmonds said.
The full parking lot proves just how popular this shopping destination has become. But for many who grew up in the Tri-Cities area, they remember the Bristol Mall as the place to be.
"If you ask anyone in high school and saw what are we going to do tonight, we'd say we're going to the mall," Brett Edmonds said.
Which is why its such a shock to those who visit the mall now. "It was like deserted, it was sad," Shopper Betty Onks said.
"You see all the empty stores, but the same structure you grew up with it's really heartbreaking," Brett Edmonds said.
Despite fewer shoppers and even fewer stores still open in the mall, one business owner has not noticed a difference in her sales.
Cathie Wurm opened Belmeade Formal Wear in the Bristol Mall in 2003. She says the store has remained successful in selling prom gowns and wedding attire.
"We're a destination, so if you're going to get married there's only so many places to buy wedding gowns. If you're going to prom there's only so many places," Wurm said.
Wurm has another shop in Johnson City, but she says the Bristol store has always done better, likely because taxes are lower in Virginia.
"Why should I stock two stores when people were wanting to pay less tax in Bristol, so people were willing to drive the extra half hour," Wurm said.
The Johnson City location remains open, but she does not sell dresses there. She only rents tuxedos.
While the future of the mall does not look promising, Wurm says at this point Belmeade Formal Wear is here to stay.
"It's been a great location for us," Wurm said.
We asked to speak with the Mall Manager Nancy Mitchell about the future of the Bristol Mall, but she refused our request.
As for Gamestop, a Corporate Communications Director Joey Mooring says they are encouraging their customers to now shop at the store located at the Bristol Commons, off exit 7.
If you had reserved any games or hardware at the Bristol Mall location, Mooring says your reservation will be transferred to the Bristol Commons store.
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