Sales slip at Southgate Mall after Wal-Mart closure |

Sales slip at Southgate Mall after Wal-Mart closure

by Susie Vasquez, Appeal Staff Writer

Autumn Smith, store manager at Carson City’s Payless Shoesource at Southgate Mall, said her store grossed almost a $1 million in 2001, before Wal-Mart opened its superstore in Douglas County.

Since then, revenues have dropped by 30 percent and, now, the store will be relocating to Douglas County’s Carson Valley Plaza.

“We’re the type of store that needs an anchor next to us, so when Wal-Mart left, it made a big difference,” she said. “A lot of people shopped at Wal-Mart and now our foot traffic is gone.”

Smith expects to be in the new facility by June or July. She said many of her customers complain about the new Wal-Mart store, saying it’s too big.

“We have too much square footage and we’re not doing the sales,” she said. “I would love to stay where I am. I love this store and the way it’s set up. I love my customers and Carson City, but this store can’t go from making what it did, to what it makes now.”

After failing to negotiate an agreement with Raley’s, which would have allowed it to expand to a superstore, Wal-Mart relocated its Carson City store to Douglas County.

The move left a 119,000-square-foot building at Southgate Mall empty and took with it an estimated $1 million in sales taxes, or roughly 2.5 percent of Carson City’s $40 million, sales-tax dependent budget.

City leaders made unsuccessful efforts — including attempting to broker a deal with Raley’s and offering several Carson City sites including the city’s fairgrounds — to retain the retail giant.

“These are just my personal opinions and not my company’s, but Wal-Mart does this to everyone,” Smith said. “They hurt the little people if things don’t work out. If they care about people and communities, why do they continue to destroy communities?”

Wayne Wiles, store manager at Pet Supermarket underscored Smith’s comments. He said his customers often complain about the added distance to the new Wal-Mart. Sales at his store also have dropped significantly.

“We’ve seen a 40-percent drop in sales since Wal-Mart left,” he said. “I heard some rumors about moving our store about six months ago, but nothing lately. As far as I know, we’re staying here.”

Corporate officials for Pier 1 Imports said they are considering a move, but other stores in Southgate Mall have fared better.

JC Penney store manager Mike Wiley said business hasn’t slowed at his store. He credited an aggressive marketing campaign and a different customer base.

“We’ve had no appreciable loss of traffic or sales,” he said. “We’re not going anywhere. We’re here for the long haul.”

General Nutrition Store Manager Mike Childers said he’s seen only a slight drop in sales.

“We’re a specialty store,” he said. “People come for a certain items. I’m sure we miss a few walk-ins but it hasn’t made a big difference.”