Muscatine Community Reacts To Announcement Of JCPenney Closure - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Muscatine Community Reacts To Announcement Of JCPenney Closure

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Many Muscatine shoppers are not currently impressed with their local mall.

"I'm pretty sure it'll close down. Close down completely," said Alma Alvarado, who stopped by the mall on Thursday with her young daughter.

"It's empty basically empty. They used to have a lot of kids clothes, now it's just dead."

"I think JCPenney has drawn a customer base," said shopper, Sara Ruesswig, "but clearly they haven't drawn enough of a base."

Investors with the company seem to agree. The store is "under performing" at its location inside Muscatine Mall. By early may, JCPenney will be gone for good.

"They've done little or no expanding over the year," said Muscatine Mayor DeWayne Hopkins, "I'm not surprised by their corporate decision to close the Muscatine store."

Hopkins doesn't look at the store closing like it's a bad thing, though. He sees it as a renewed chance for the mall to thrive.

"JCPenney, move over and let somebody come in that wants to contribute to the community," Hopkins said.

Local business leaders are also optimistic that more growth can come from this loss.

"It is our opinion that they do a very good job of recruiting new businesses," said Muscatine Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, Greg Jensen. He says, in the past several years, mall management has more than doubled occupancy.

"If you were at 25 percent and now you're at 65 percent, you've shown significant and aggressive growth over that time frame," Jensen said. "So, in that regard, I think it's very good."

Still, 65 percent is not 95 percent. So, there's room to expand.

"I would like to see a center anchor store that attracts traffic," Hopkins said.

Many of the shoppers we spoke to think the mall could benefit from some change --

"Find somebody that will do a better job," said Ruesswig.