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Three stores at Knoxville Center Mall plan to close | News

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Three stores at Knoxville Center Mall plan to close
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Knoxville Center Mall has served the east part of town and nearby counties for the last 30 years.

Managers with at least three stores in Knoxville Center mall confirmed Tuesday they're closing their doors in coming weeks.

Hollister will close Saturday, Jan. 3. The last day for Rack Room Shoes is Jan. 15. Aeropostale is set to close Jan. 27. Earlier this week, a Toys "R" Us confirmed its location next to Knoxville Center Mall will also close at the end of January.

RELATED: Hashtag campaign calls for Knoxville Center Mall changes

From an 8-million dollar face-lift, and even a new name, the former East Towne Mall has seen a lot of change since its opening in 1984.

With stores in and around the mall leaving, many would say the mall is in a decline, but owners and developers say the changes could bring new life to the area.

"We've got a lot of one-of-a-kind things going on in this mall and it makes it really special and unique," said store owner Dominique Lacey.

She's not concerned about the three stores closing.

"They're big corporate chains, they're not what everybody wants," said Lacey, "You want something that's unique and that's handmade."

Lacey's store, Wayward Art Gallery, features an eclectic mix of hand-made art. She believes local is the future for Knoxville Center. Despite the possibility of a new future inside, the mall still faces some external challenges, like its location.

"It's hidden, and it always has been hidden."

Commercial real estate broker Justin Cazana believes visibility has plagued the mall for a long time.

"When you drive over, it's difficult to get off the interstate and know exactly where the mall, is unlike somewhere like a West Town or a Turkey Creek.," said Cazana.

He believes the mall's problems don't take away from the area itself. His company still has a number of retail properties in that area. There is still traction and a customer base.

"You've gotten certain demographics that some retailers want to go after out there in that direction," said Cazana.

Dominique Lacey feels the same way. Her loyal shoppers keep business thriving, and she's confident to call Knoxville Center home.

"We could have gone anywhere in the country and we chose to come here," said Lacey, "Because there is so much potential here."


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