Over 100 JCPenney stores closing nationwide, Valley locations safe

The decision was made to cut costs and focus on the chain's stronger locations

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

HERMITAGE, Pa. (WYTV/WOOD) – Store closures are making it hard for malls across the country to stay open.

The Shenango Valley Mall is no different, starting 2017 with two anchor stores — Macy’s and Sears — closing up shop.

Last month, JCPenney announced it was closing 138 stores as it tries to improve profitability in the era of online shopping. The company said it would also initiate a voluntary early retirement program for about 6,000 eligible employees.

But, Jim Sarvas, a listing agent for the Shenango Valley Mall, is breathing a little easier today after learning from JCPenny’s management that the store is staying put locally.

“Was kind of devastating, the thought of losing two major anchors. But because JCPenney is staying, that’s very positive,” he said.

Locally owned stores in the mall also say they are glad JCPenney is staying. But, they still say the air of gloom and doom surrounding the mall is totally uncalled for.

“I don’t know how many customers have been in here today, say like 10, and of the 10, seven of them brought up the subject of like, ‘Oh, so are you closing or when is the mall closing?'” said Carrie Necastro, manager of King’s Jewelry.

Necastro has been the store manager at King’s for 30 years, she says local businesses are thriving while chain stores are the ones having a hard time.

“We have a lot to offer our customer because of our experience. Collectively, we have over 150 years experience on my staff,” she said.

So, in order to attract new tenants to the mall, Sarvas says he’s thinking outside of the “big box” retailer.

“Put-put golf courses, indoor golf courses, bowling alleys,” Sarvas said.

He says these stores could generate tons of foot traffic, meaning more business for local stores, too.

“Some of these venues could bring anywhere from 3-5,000 people a day,” he said.

So rest assured, the Shenango Valley Mall isn’t going anywhere for now and neither is King’s Jewelry.

“This mall has been here since 1967. We have been in this mall since 1968 and of course, we’re here to stay,” Necastro said.

Sarvas said he has had meetings with several local organizations about renting space in the mall. He hopes to fill the mall’s 12 vacant storefronts within a couple of months.

JCPenney has provided a full list of the stores that will close.