Con­cerns over clos­ing of depart­ment stores

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Francine Grin­nell fgrin­[email protected]­tu­ry­media.com

WIL­TON, N.Y. >> For years, re­tail­ers within shop­ping malls have been strug­gling to com­pete with e-com­merce sites that have taken the need for hu­man con­tact out of shop­ping. The depart­ment store, as it was known, is no more.

One by one, lo­cal re­tail lo­ca­tions are un­der­go­ing the re­sults of their con­trol­ling cor­po­ra­tions hav­ing de­clared bank­ruptcy and then liq­ui­da­tion. The same process that has al­ready hit un­told com­mu­ni­ties in the United States over the past decade is now hit­ting home in Saratoga and War­ren coun­ties.

Over re­cent months, the Wil­ton Mall in Saratoga Springs lost one of four an­chor re­tail­ers when the Bon-Ton closed in Au­gust this sum­mer.

A sec­ond an­chor, Sears, is cur­rently go­ing through the liq­ui­da­tion count­down. The story of the im­pact this ma­jor shift in con­sumer trends is mul­ti­fac­eted in that the long-term ef­fects on each com­mu­nity af­fected goes beyond the thrill of the hunt for more and more cheaper mer­chan­dise and com­mu­ni­cates sig­nif­i­cantly what this says about our ac­quis­i­tive cul­ture.

The ef­fect on lo­cal shop­pers can be felt al­ready.

Wil­ton res­i­dent Ti­bor Son­nen­schein hates to see the depart­ment stores go. “I like depart­ment stores be­cause of the va­ri­ety. “They have cat­e­gories — lawn and gar­den­ing, build­ing— and you can find prac­ti­cally any­thing all in one place. When I needed grass seed, ce­ment, tools, it was prac­ti­cal to go to my lo­cal store. Un­for­tu­nately, the smaller stores can­not com­pete price-wise. I liked the sales.”

Town of Wil­ton High­way Su­per­in­ten­dent Kirklin Wood­cock said there are con­se­quences to the clos­ing of lo­cal re­tail­ers that af­fect res­i­dents.

“The Town of Wil­ton should be very cau­tious of what is hap­pen­ing in the mall area now that an­chor stores are clos­ing,” he said. “Mall sales, gen­er­ate a ma­jor source of tax rev­enue for the Town.”

He added, “When you went into Sears to pur­chase hand or power tools, you didn’t have to chase around. Qual­ity tool[s] were there. I think peo­ple should back off buy­ing on­line. Some­times it may be cheaper on­line, but you can’t phys­i­cally look at an item. To lose BonTon and then Sears, with its great au­to­mo­tive depart­ment — peo­ple are go­ing to miss them. I would hope the mall man­age­ment would look for re­place­ment re­tail­ers that will pro­vide sales tax rev­enue for the Town of Wil­ton as well as for Saratoga County.”

Pat Flana­gan of Gan­sevoort and Veron­ica McFar­land of Green­field Cen­ter agrees.

“Stop shop­ping on Ama­zon and shop lo­cally,” she said.

McFar­land ob­sessed that the rip­ple ef­fect touches other re­tail­ers. “I just heard that even the Sal­va­tion Army is los­ing cus­tomers be­cause peo­ple aren’t shop­ping at phys­i­cal stores as much.”

PHO­TOS BY FRANCINE GRIN­NELL — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Over re­cent months, the Wil­ton Mall in Saratoga Springs lost one of four an­chor re­tail­ers when the Bon-Ton closed in Au­gust this sum­mer. A sec­ond an­chor, Sears, is cur­rently go­ing through the liq­ui­da­tion count­down.

Wil­ton res­i­dent Ti­bor Son­nen­schein hates to see the depart­ment stores go. “I like depart­ment stores be­cause of the va­ri­ety. When I needed grass seed, ce­ment, tools, it was prac­ti­cal to go to my lo­cal store. Un­for­tu­nately, the smaller stores can­not com­pete price-wise. I liked the sales.”

Town of Wil­ton High­way Su­per­in­ten­dent Kirklin Wood­cock said “Mall sales gen­er­ate a ma­jor source of tax rev­enue for the Town.”

FRANCINE GRIN­NELL — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Pat Flana­gan of Gan­sevoort, left, and Veron­ica McFar­land of Green­field Cen­ter say they pre­fer to shop lo­cally.

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