Friday, October 30, 2015

Forever 21 Bids Farewell to Faltering Mall

Teen retailer closes suburban location.

Los Angeles-based Forever 21 closed its store at Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth yesterday.  The store, located on the mall's second level between (the former) JCPenney and Sears, sported the retailers early-mid 2000s design elements of white frame windows.  The store had previously relocated from a slightly smaller location closer to the former J.C. Penney, above the food court. 

A sign posted on the retailer's door invites patrons to visit them at nearby Sugarloaf Mills. The retailer relocated and enlarged their store at the "outlet" center over a year ago and is likely drawing significantly better sales from the more popular center. 

Forever 21 is only the latest national retailer to pull out of the beleaguered mall.  Williams-Sonoma, Banana Republic, Gap, American Eagle, Panera, and Planet Smoothie have all closed over the years in the mall.  Anchors Belk (in the former Parisian) closed in 2013, while JCPenney hung in until this past April.

Despite the mall's struggles, a number of national retailers maintain a presence including Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostale, Bath & Body Works, Foot Locker and Victoria's Secret.   

Moonbeam Capital Investments LLC, which assumed ownership of the mall in 2012 when prior owner Simon Property Group allowed it to go into foreclosure, has made few noticeable improvements in the mall. They also don't update the mall's website as it still shows JCPenney as a tenant despite them having closed in April.  On the other hand, they are current enough to have Spirit Halloween, a temporary store, listed as a tenant.  

I've been working on a more in-depth post about Gwinnett Place Mall and hope to have that completed in the weeks to come.  

What would you like to see happen to the mall? Are you a fan of Forever 21?  What is your favorite "teen" retailer?

Please share your thoughts below. 

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know A&F is an increasingly irrelevant brand, but how the hell are they still open in GP? They must be paying next to nothing in rent.

Pigfish said...

the only time I ever go to GPM is to have my car serviced at Sears Auto

Anonymous said...

Bets are that A&F, Bath & Body and Victoria's Secret leave Gwinnett Place as soon as Macy's closes. BB and VS are owned by Limited, and A&F used to be part of that. Those three won't have any part of that dead mall once the only viable anchor is gone.

Ham said...

I worked in that area for several years and it is really shocking to see how rapidly that area deteriorated. At one time the mall was one of the busiest in Atlanta and the area featured numerous retailers and restaurants. Then it seemed like overnight the entire area simply went to pot. Maybe it was the Mall of Georgia, maybe it was too many low rent apartments, but either way it seems an example of bad planning.

ImAndy said...

Macy's is going yet. They're basically giving rent away for tenants to stay there. They still do a pretty good little business but it wouldn't surprise me to see them consolidate floors like they did at Northlake. Mega Mart did the same a few years ago closed the second floor. I work a few blocks away and when I first started working out here 7 years ago there was a Chick Fil a Subway Dairy Queen all the makings of a real food court and the mall was still mostly leased. Everyone points to Mall of GA and Sugarloaf Mills for killing this but this mall held on for years after those opened. There is something specifically about the demographics of this particular neighborhood that is killing this mall it's not competition. They definitely aren't Belk and Penny's shoppers...and that's all I'm going to say about that :-)

Anonymous said...

ImAndy is correct - the demographics in that area are the key to GP downturn. Sugarloaf Mills has faltered over the years too and demographics has played a part in that. If you have ever been to any of the other Mills centers, the store selection at Sugarloaf is pathetic in comparison.

Cheap rent at GP, et al can only make a dying mall attractive for a tenant for so long. Macy's will close a lot of stores around the country, some metropolitan areas like Atlanta will see a greater impact because the amount of their stores that need to go. JMHO

Anonymous said...

Williams-Sonoma was never located in the Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth. Williams-Sonoma closd the Northpoint Mall store.Northpoint is also a dying mall.

Anonymous said...

There most certainly was a Williams-Sonoma store at Gwinnett Place Mall, and it was still there during the initial decline.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't call North Point a dying mall in the same breath as Gwinnett Place. As an employee in one of the more upscale stores at North Point, I'd say the mall is not being entirely proactive in its decision-making, but we consistently meet our sales goals, the food court is PACKED on weekends, the Apple Store has a line literally out the door, and American Girl regularly attracts business from as far away as Alabama and the Carolinas. North Point is not growing by leaps and bounds, but I feel you are incorrect in your assertion that it is dying, at the very least for the next few years.

BW said...

Yes, there was most definitely a Williams Sonoma at Gwinnett Place. It was only around for a few years in the late 90s or early 2000s. Right around the time that Mall of Georgia opened, a surprising number of new, more upscale tenants opened at Gwinnett Place including Williams Sonoma, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor. All of them only lasted a few years before realizing their mistakes. It almost makes you wonder if Simon, who owned both malls at that time, offered incentives to those chains to open locations in both malls when they were lining up stores for the new mall, as all of those chains were also original tenants at Mall of Georgia.

The Williams Sonoma was located to the left of Abercrombie and Fitch in Gwinnett Place, almost directly underneath the center court escalators. I haven't been in GP in years, but the last time I was there, the standard Williams Sonoma storefront was still in place, but a mattress store was operating out of the space.

Anonymous said...

Its really quite sad to walk GP nowadays. Its just so empty. Even though the area has changed the last few years i believe the reduction of mall traffic in the area had something to do with that. People used to drive down from the Carolinas to shop at GP. I worked there in the early 90's and the holiday season was ridiculously busy. The location of the chain I worked for consistently was the top performing store in the company during the holidays. Even Valentines Day got the mall packed with shoppers. The addition of the food court, the Parisian wing and Mervyns wing just kept it all going. That Macy's was very well kept. The Rich's was awesome. Mall of Georgia simply fired the first shot which got the downward trend started at GP. Its so empty there now I can hardly see the point. I think this one is going the way of Shannon Mall/Union Station.

Anonymous said...

Williams-Sonoma was in GPM, and opened in Mall of GA. When the demos shifted north, they closed GPM and opened in the forum as well. The wave of competition that hit GPM was amazing: Mills to the east, Mall of GA to the north, and the Forum to the South. Too many places and not enough shoppers. Raze and start over: mixed-use retail, office, residential. The Sattelite Blvd / Pleasant Hill Rd area is still a prime node, it just needs the right project.

North Point replaced Willan-Sonoma with Sur Le Table. Upgrade in my view.

Sheednomics said...

This mall is located in a very high traffic area but it's just aged and very outdated. The mall is nice and the architecture is very alluring in which the only thing that makes the mall stand out is the Sears store in which the only others are at Stonecrest, Cumberland, Cobb Town Center, and unsure if Northlake or Northpoint have one. I still wouldn't be suprised if Butlington Coat Factory tries to take the former JCPenney Spot as there are none in the specific area.

NT1819 said...

It's unbelievable how fast the mall went from very good to very bad and if no one else will say it I will.....The mall and the area around it have been been taken over by all the Koreans in the Duluth area! Every store sign and business is owned and/or operated by Koreans. I don't even like to drive in the area anymore. The best thing to do is bulldoze the entire mall down and build a mixed use development. The mall is a HUGE eyesore and will continue to go down.

gdfleo said...

It's not the Koreans that brought the mall down. The movie theaters closed years ago because of muggings and assorted crimes. Then the mall.

Anonymous said...

I am not Korean I am just sensible. If it was not for the Korean businesses all the stores would be empty on that entire GP strip and the mall itself would have been closed years ago. I don't buy the fact that Sugarloaf and MOG put an end to GP. If you look at Phipps Lenox and Perimeter rach are so close to each other even if you considered phipps and Lenox as one mall - perimeter is so close and they all seem to coexist very well.

ImAndy said...

Regarding the comment above there is already a Burlington a few miles away at sugarloaf.

Anonymous said...

NT1819, if not for the Koreans, Gwinnett Mall would've closed long ago! They're the ones that have built up Duluth. However, Koreans tend to like luxury products so there's not much reason to go to Gwinnett Mall now besides Megamart, they will go to Lenox or Phipps.