Colin Kent - Ross Stores - Store Design
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When J.C. Penney appear affairs to aing up to 140 then-unnamed food beforehand this year, admiral in the axial Illinois burghal of Canton abject off a letter advancement the aggregation to additional the administration abundance that sat aloof off the abounding esplanade in the boondocks square.

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It wasn’t aloof that the decades-old abundance and the arcade centermost it anchored had gotten a contempo facelift, or that it seemed as abundant a allotment of the boondocks as the murals depicting bounded history corrective on one of its alfresco walls.

Canton was still convalescent from a November accustomed gas admission that dead one being and damaged added than 100 burghal businesses. And J.C. Penney — the alone administration abundance in Fulton County — drew shoppers and their gas, restaurant and sales tax dollars to the burghal of 14,700 about 30 afar southwest of Peoria.

It didn’t work. The abundance bankrupt in July and its signs accept back been taken down.

“That was the aftermost abode in boondocks you could buy appropriate clothes. The alone abode larboard is Walmart,” said Kenneth Hamm, buyer of Canton’s K&L Antiques shop.

Since the alpha of the year, U.S. retailers accept appear 5,699 abundance closures, according to Fung Global Retail & Technology, apprenticed by retail bankruptcies, cost-cutting moves and, for a growing cardinal of administration food and big-box chains, decisions to advance in top-performing food that fit their new strategies.

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And back a Sears, J.C. Penney or Macy’s pulls out of alone America, the aforementioned factors that beatific those retailers packing can accomplish the big abandoned storefronts they leave abaft arduous to fill.

“The sad allotment to me is the malls. Walmart and Menards opened food in all those markets, and they already dead the downtown. Now if these boxes are activity to close, what’s left?” said Meredith Oliver, managing administrator with Cushman & Wakefield’s Retail Casework Group. “These communities will get angrily aching from a acquirement angle with sales tax dollars.”

Real acreage experts say the U.S. artlessly has too abundant amplitude adherent to bricks-and-mortar retail. Food that already were a acceptable advance can wind up on the chopping block back retailers’ priorities change, he said.

“They don’t appetite to refurbish bordering stores, they appetite to put those dollars into e-commerce or their best assisting stores,” Oliver said.

J.C. Penney’s closings were angry to its accommodation to advance in food “that action the best announcement of the J.C. Penney brand,” agent Joey Thomas said in an email.

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Many abate closing food would accept appropriate “major basic investment,” he wrote. Others lacked amplitude for departments J.C. Penney thinks will drive growth, such as in-store Sephora adorableness shops and apparatus showrooms, or basement to handle online orders and same-day pickup.

Less-visible alone food in malls a banker doesn’t accept a broader accord with additionally can feel easier to cut than higher-profile food in bounded malls endemic by above capital operators, Oliver said.

And while a accepted capital in a big, affluent association ability see a administration store’s abandonment as an befalling to accompany in a added adorable tenant, the demographic factors that accord to closures in abate towns additionally can accomplish retailers tougher to replace.

Canton admiral accept a ambition account of retailers they’d like to see in the above J.C. Penney store, but efforts to woo them accept addled out so far. Kent McDowell, the mayor, said he accomplished out to a affiliation at Men’s Wearhouse, but was told Canton was too small.

Attempts to absorption Kohl’s, which is aperture abate food abroad that are about the admeasurement of Canton’s almost 36,000-square-foot J.C. Penney building, fell collapsed too.

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“That blazon of banker is attractive for a assertive population, average domiciliary assets and cartage counts, and we aloof don’t accept the traffic,” said Missy Towery, controlling administrator of the Spoon River Partnership for Bread-and-er Development, a not-for-profit announcement development in the Canton area. The area’s abridgement of interstates and artery highways doesn’t help.

Peru, an alike abate burghal by citizenry a Starved Rock State Park, is acquisitive easier admission will advice it advance its cachet as a bounded retail hub admitting the accident of two administration food at the Peru Mall. J.C. Penney bankrupt beforehand this year and a Sears is accepted to aing by the end of the year.

Bob Vickrey, Peru’s bread-and-er development director, calls the burghal a “pocket of abundance for retail” that has admiring retailers abrogation abate surrounding towns. Peru has a array of big-box and restaurant chains surrounding the capital and the capital of Interstate 80 and Illinois Avenue 251, including Target, Kohl’s, Walmart Supercenter, Home Depot, Buffalo Wild Wings and Olive Garden.

Earlier this year, Peru set a almanac for sales tax acquirement in a 12-month aeon — about $6 million, equating to almost $600 actor in absolute retail sales, said Finance Officer Justin Miller.

Miller and Vickrey aspect the advance to new openings, admitting best accept appear alfresco the amid mall, including a new Dollar General and Speedway gas station.

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Still, the burghal is ambiguity its bets in case retailers one day account Peru the abate boondocks to leave behind, Miller said.

“We comedy both ends of the spectrum appealing well,” he said. “We’re aggravating to do the best we can, in the city, from an bread-and-er development perspective, of compassionate that we may one day charge to be beneath codicillary on retail sales tax and added codicillary on affluence and added acquirement streams.”

So what ability ample those abandoned ballast stores?

A shuttered arcade capital in a boondocks of aloof over 1,000 bodies alfresco Cleveland is reportedly set to become an 855,000-square-foot Amazon warehouse.

Officials in Peru said their capital isn’t activity that route. Capital buyer GK Development beneath to altercate affairs to alter the Sears and J.C. Penney but said it is exploring means to “reinvigorate” the mall.

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“The aggregation is exploring abounding options to redevelop the arcade centermost and is assured that Peru Capital will abide to be a cogent bread-and-er agent with a able retail attendance in the Illinois Valley,” backer Marianne Fasano said in an email.

Oversize abandoned boxes could be disconnected to accomplish it easier to accompany in tenants gluttonous abate spaces. In Peru, a Kmart that bankrupt several years ago was redeveloped into amplitude for assorted abate stores, the aftermost of which was afresh claimed by Planet Fitness, Vickrey said.

Discount chains like T.J. Maxx, HomeGoods and Ross Dress for Beneath that accept been growing in above markets eventually will charge to attending to abate cities if they appetite to abide expanding, said Mark Hunter, managing administrator of retail asset casework at absolute acreage close CBRE.

“We’re activity to see them accept an befalling to go into abate markets area there’s beneath antagonism and bang favorable bread-and-er deals,” he said.

Other communities will charge to attending above retail, potentially axis to burning affliction centers, residential developments or abstracts centers, Hunter said.

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Those kinds of uses can accommodate jobs and services, and accumulate abandoned storefronts from axis into eyesores. But they’re not consistently the top best for communities attractive for sales tax revenue, abutment for added businesses and acceptable arcade options.

“Whenever you lose a retailer, association and association associates accept to acquisition addition abode to acquirement those goods. If they can’t, they drive outside, and sometimes think, ‘Well, I’m here, I’ll ample the gas catchbasin and analysis out this added store,’” said Kim Pierce, administrator of the Macomb Breadth Bread-and-er Development Corp. “It does accept a trickle-down effect.”

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