Customers, Local Businesses React to JCPenney Closure Announcement

It's the third store to pull out of the Wausau Center Mall just this week.

JCPenney announced Wednesday that it's closing stores in the Wausau Center Mall and the Lincoln Plaza Center in Rhinelander along with others in Wisconsin.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Holister and The Gap are to shut down by the end of January.

Now, JCPenney will shut down sometimes between April and June.

After talking to a number of customers and businesses Wednesday night after the news broke, it sounds like anchor store JCPenney will be missed, and the future of the Wausau Center Mall is up in the air.

"We were shocked to hear that," Coldwater Creek Store Manager Carrie Heide said. "It's sad to see any business go out of business."

It's only the second year Heide has been in charge of her store, but she hopes the closing of mall businesses won't affect downtown.

"I haven't heard a lot from customers," Heide said.

Customer Jenny Statz, who shops regularly at JCPenney, said she's shocked about it closing. She said she hopes something good will come out of this sudden change.

"I think it's greatly disappointing," Statz said. "We have such a great downtown mall. It's (JCPenney) a nice, little anchor for the downtown area."

JCPenney is the third store to pull out of the Wausau center mall this week with The Gap and Holister, leaving young customers in disappointment too.

"The only reason I really come to Wausau is for the mall," Customer Trinity Speigel said. "It (JCPenney closing) might bring more business to TJ Maxx since the other ones (stores in the mall) are closing."

The Diamond Showcase Owner Mark McKinley said he thinks the effects on downtown businesses will be temporary.

"You've always seen the stores come and go, the small stores, they'll be replaced," McKinley said. "On the other hand, Penneys, Penneys is one. It's going to missed a lot. It's obviously been a good anchor since 1983."

As for what to replace these missing stores with, everyone's got an idea or two.

"I hope something decent goes in the stores," Jalapeno Bartender Falecia Lepak said.

"We need a children stores in this area," Heide said.

"Macys, Dillards, anything that would be a good anchor store for the community," Statz said.

NewsChannel 7 tried contacting Wausau Center Mall Representatives Wednesday.

They would not let NewsChannel 7 into the mall, nor would they speak about the closings.

However, in a press release, the Wausau Center all's owner, Tennessee-based CBL and Associates, it said it actually was anticipating the shut down of JCPenney in four of its properties.

The release said it's been proactively engaging in discussions with potential replacements and has strong interest in the locations closing down.

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