Richmond Mall looks ahead as big retailers leave

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - With trends in retail shifting online, malls across northeast Ohio look different than even a couple of years ago.

Rolling Acres and Randall Park Mall are now ghost towns. In 2015, Macy's announced it was leaving Richmond Town Square, and Sears is also on its way out.

"The malls are not like they used to be. I was shocked and I was sad about it," said resident Tanisha Holcomb.

JC Penny recently said that it was closing 138 of its stores nationwide, including Richmond. Leisa Russell, who oversees the mall, said they're working to change the company's mind.

"We're still fighting for our JC Penny we're still writing letters and telling them we want them in this community," said Russell.

Russell said that even with big retailers leaving, the mall's owners have no plans of closing down. She sees it as an opportunity to stand out.

"Because we're not in a cookie cutter environment," said Russell.

Instead the strategy is to cater to shoppers by bringing unique and smaller stores in the next few months.

"We're only at a 10 percent vacancy rate, which is not very high. We have four or five new eateries coming on site, and  have a new store opening April 1. We have a lot of plans for the exteriors," said Russell.

But without big names, they will still be in fierce competition with online shoppers and same day deliveries.

Russell said she is also working on increasing events like an upcoming Easter egg hunt. It's a step in a different direction that she hopes is the right one.

"The goal is to make this mall successful and to thrive," said Russell.

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