Rocky Mount is bucking a retail trend in a way that continues to draw much-appreciated shoppers to the city.
As Telegram business writer John Henderson reported Sunday, enclosed shopping malls in Wilson, Roanoke Rapids and Tarboro either have closed or have greatly dwindled in terms of numbers of stores. Nationally, analysts say, retail trends are swinging toward open shopping centers, such as the Streets at Southpoint in Durham. Some sources say the last enclosed mall in the country opened in 2006.
Yet despite all of that, Golden East Crossing in Rocky Mount continues at about an 80 percent occupancy rate, and mall officials say they’re excited about an upcoming announcement involving a new tenant for the former Sears space at the mall.
That’s good news for Rocky Mount – and for shoppers in Eastern North Carolina.
For Rocky Mount, the mall continues to be a magnet for customers from Wilson, Edgecombe, Halifax and even Northampton counties. As Henderson’s story showed, some of those folks are driving 20 miles or more to shop in Rocky Mount stores, eat in Rocky Mount restaurants and, perhaps, buy gasoline or take in a movie while they’re here, as well.
For our neighbors, Rocky Mount offers shopping in a convenient location, away from the crowds and traffic jams that too often accompany major shopping days at malls such as Crabtree Valley in Raleigh.
Golden East has weathered its share of bumps. The closings of Sears and Best Buy meant the loss of two nationally recognized tenants. But give credit to Hendon Properties of Atlanta, which owns Golden East. The company has hustled to keep the mall viable with new retailers and other vendors.
We’re hopeful and excited about the prospects of a new tenant in a space as large as the former Sears store. And we’re glad that Golden East continues to draw shoppers from Rocky Mount and beyond.