JC’s 5 Star Outlet — the last retail enterprise remaining at the former Rolling Acres mall — is closing.
The former JCPenney Outlet on Romig Road had been purchased in 2011 along with 14 other locations across the country by SB Capital Group LLC, an affiliate of retailer Schottenstein in Columbus.
The stores bore the name of JCPenney Outlet, but transitioned to JC’s 5 Star Outlet.
In a news release, CEO Glen Gammons, former head of the JCPenney Outlet Store Division and CEO of JC’s 5 Star Outlet, blamed low sales for the decision.
“The closing of the outlets was necessitated by the precipitous decline of sales,” Gammons said. “After exploring all the alternatives, we could no longer incur the losses resulting from the continued operation of the outlet stores.”
Going out of business sales will begin today, the company said. Todd Hutchins, spokesperson for JC’s 5 Star Outlet, said no closing date has been determined, but all stores will close at the same time and it will depend on how quickly inventory and fixtures are sold.
Hutchins said the stores are expected to stay open through the holidays.
Customers outside the Akron JC’s 5 Star Outlet were upset at the news.
“I can’t see how they’re losing money,” said Renee Holmes of Akron as she and her sister, Tanya Dubose of Orlando, Fla., were getting ready to take their mother, Bessie Durham of Akron, in to shop for “shoes and purses and whatever.”
“There’s so many people up here all the time spending money,” said Holmes, who estimated she’s at the store three to four times a month.
Dubose said she comes up to Akron twice a year and always wants to shop there.
In a May 2012 interview with the Beacon Journal, Gammons said the Akron store was profitable and performed around the middle of the pack financially among the 15 stores. The stores nationwide were struggling with making customers aware the outlets hadn’t closed the previous fall with the sale from JCPenney, he said.
Bill Plumley of Portage Lakes had just finished shopping at the store, where he bought a pair of Levi jeans for himself at $26.99. The ticketed retail price said $44.99.
“I come at least once, maybe twice a month,” said Plumley, a widower on disability who lost his wife to a heart ailment a year ago.
Plumley said he is struggling with cancer while raising three children. “This is really, really close for me to shop at and I’m on a fixed income. This is where I buy stuff for my kids.
“I’m going to come back and get winter coats for the kids. They have coats I can afford,” he said. Plumley said he has bought furniture and kitchen items at the store.
Plumley, noting the shoes and jeans he was wearing came from 5 Star, remembered when the mall was in its heyday.
“I came here when it first started. This was better than Summit Mall or anywhere, but it kept going down hill,” he said.
The inside of the central mall property closed in October 2008, when electricity was about to be turned off for nonpayment, after several years of decline and retailers moving out. In 2011, a man died when he was electrocuted in an attempt to steal copper wiring. The last departure was Sears, which closed in the spring of 2011 and is now occupied by a private owner who runs a recycling business. The other former department stores attached to the mall are owned separately and operate privately for storage or recycling.
Foreclosure proceedings have begun against the current owner of the mall, Premier Ventures LLC of California. Premier has not paid $674,221 in taxes since it purchased the mall in 2010. Premier also has liens against it for $457,798 from a California trust. Summit County Fiscal Officer Kristen Scalise said if the property does not have a buyer and if the back taxes and liens are not satisfied, then a sheriff’s sale could take place next summer. If after two rounds, the mall is not purchased, the county would erase the delinquent taxes and liens and offer the property to the city.
Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic has said if that happens, the city would likely demolish the common areas of the mall, which have fallen into disrepair, and try to encourage other development. Plusquellic said it was unfortunate that the store is closing, because he said he always saw a full parking lot and that the store served a niche market, drawing from around the region.
“It doesn’t seem to make sense to me,” Plusquellic said. “As it works out, we have one more vacant building.”
Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or email@example.com.