Biz Beat

Big changes may be coming to Modesto’s Vintage Faire Mall. Here’s what to expect

The Forever 21 in the Vintage Faire Mall pictured Oct. 2, 2019 in Modesto, Calif.
The Forever 21 in the Vintage Faire Mall pictured Oct. 2, 2019 in Modesto, Calif.

The massive, two-story Forever 21 store at Modesto’s Vintage Faire Mall could be closing.

The Modesto store is listed as one of the 178 locations the company has targeted to close as part of its ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. A Forever 21 store in Fresno’s Fashion Fair Mall also made the closure list, which was filed in court Tuesday, along with locations at the Westville Galleria in Roseville and at the Palladio shopping center in Folsom.

The news comes at a tenuous time for retailers across the country, and after Vintage Faire Mall has already weathered a series of closures this year. But mall officials said they remain optimistic about new projects coming into some of the vacant spaces including a planned Dave & Buster’s.

Forever 21 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection over the weekend. The closure list represents a third of the brand’s 549 U.S. stores. Court documents state that the company may not close all of the 178 locations, but would have to if it could not renegotiate lease agreements with some of its landlords.

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The Forever 21 in the Vintage Faire Mall pictured Oct. 2, 2019 in Modesto, Calif. Maria Figueroa

According to court documents, the stores on the list were targeted as “under-performing operations.”

Macerich owns Vintage Faire Mall, and Forever 21 has had a location inside the north Modesto shopping complex since 2001. In 2009, the store relocated into the three-story former anchor spot of now defunct department store Gottschalks, which went out of business that same year.

At the time Forever 21 store moved from its existing 6,500-square-foot space to take over the enormous 154,500-square-foot anchor spot at Center Court, the move was part of a company-wide effort to rapidly expand its discount fast-fashion brand.

The store opened in the space four weeks after Gottschalks closed its doors, in August 2009. It has used only two of the space’s three floors during its decade in the anchor spot.

No date has been given yet for when the stores on the list will be shuttered. But liquidation sales are expected to happen by the end of the year at the stores that will be closed.

The closure news comes at a time when brick-and-mortar retailers across the country have been struggling. Former retail giants Sears and J.C. Penney have shuttered numerous locations at malls across the country — including the Sears at Vintage Faire Mall.

But Vintage Faire spokeswoman Annie Amies said the Modesto mall continues to be a big regional draw and attract new businesses. While she could not comment on the potential Forever 21 closure, Ames said, “We are pretty lucky; we are a healthy community and mall.”

Still Vintage Faire has dealt with some major departures. Sears, which had been an anchor in the mall since it opened in 1977, closed at the start of this year as the once venerable retailer struggles to stay afloat.

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The former Sears space in Vintage Faire Mall is under construction, and will become a Dave & Buster’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Pictured Oct. 2, 2019 in Modesto, Calif. Maria Figueroa

In April, city of Modesto officials revealed that Dave & Buster’s would move into part of the vacant, two-story Sears space. The national chain of adult-centered entertainment centers plans to open on the site’s second floor, and Dick’s Sporting Goods would relocate to take over the bottom floor.

The Dick’s space, a standalone store on Dale Road in the Vintage Faire complex, would make way for a new HomeGoods, the first in the city.

Ames confirmed that plans for the Dave & Busters are moving forward and demolition and construction work is under way. She said while there is no exact opening date announced yet, the Dave & Buster’s is expected to be ready sometime in 2020.

Other recent mall departures include the Charming Charlie women’s clothing brand and Payless ShoeSource discount footwear, which both shuttered this year.

But the Charming Charlie site will soon be filled by the Furniture & More store, which is relocating from its upper-level interior spot to the outdoor addition. Ames said a new, yet-to-be-announced tenant is moving into the Furniture & More spot. And the Payless Shoe Source is being filled by Global Luggage.

In other mall news, Abercrombie Kids will open a new store at the end of October next to the existing Disney and Cotton on Kids stores, and across the way from the existing Abercrombie & Fitch on the upper level. Also Charlotte Russe, which closed all of its stores including its Vintage Faire Mall site earlier this year, has reopened this week.

Ames said currently the mall has about one available vacant space for lease. It remains to be seen what retailers would be interested in taking on the gigantic Forever 21 anchor spot if it closes.

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Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs midweek and Sundays. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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