Any time a store in the area closes, especially one that has been around for 15 years like Pier 1 Imports in the Garden Valley Shopping Center, there is a tendency to read a lot into it.
The closing signals the beginning of the end for retail stores in Roseburg, or the beginning of the end for the Garden Valley Shopping Center, or both, some might say.
A shopper at Pier 1 summed that line of thinking up this week when he said of the news of the closing: “It’s not just the store, it’s the story of Roseburg. All the stores around here are closing.”
Obviously that’s not true, but it’s an understandable reaction amid the sting of learning one of your favorite places to shop is closing.
Yes, this is a difficult time for many brick-and-mortar retail outlets. Business Insider, an online business news site, summed up the glum news in a story this week. Here are the highlights (lowlights?):
• More than 9,300 store closings were announced in 2019, smashing the previous record of roughly 8,000 store closures in 2017.
• The number of store closings this year could be even higher than previous records, according to estimates from the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield. The firm estimated that as many as 12,000 major chain stores could close in 2020.
• Retailers have already confirmed at least 1,700 store closings for 2020, with Pier 1 Imports, Sears, Kmart, Forever 21 and Walgreens among those planning closures.
Even accepting all that, though, I would caution against reading too much into the Pier 1 closing.
To begin with, Pier 1 has been struggling for a while. At one point in late 2018 its stock fell so low — below $1 per share — that it was in danger of losing its New York Stock Exchange listing.
The stock eventually rebounded, somewhat, but still took an overall tumble that was exacerbated by the news this week that Pier 1 would be closing nearly half its 942 stores.
As the Associated Press reported, Pier 1’s shares fell 17% to close at $5.18 on Monday. They fell another 6% in extended trading following the announcement of the store closures.
Pier 1 said sales in its most recent quarter fell 13%, to $358 million, as store traffic fell. It reported a net loss of $59 million for the quarter, which ended Nov. 30. Other reports said the company is expected to file for bankruptcy in the not too distant future.
So one could argue that the closings say more about Pier 1 as a corporation than the economic landscape for Roseburg in general and the Garden Valley Shopping Center in particular.
The Shopping Center has been managed since 2009 by Silva Management, a Eugene property management firm. Connie Bennett, a property manager for the company, told me that the Shopping Center has a current 92% occupancy rate.
Bennett’s assessment of what the Pier 1 closing means?
“Basically it means that we have a space that will be available for a new tenant,” she said. She also pointed out that both J.C. Penney and Ross Dress for Less have been in the mall for around 20 years, and Pier 1 was there since 2005.
Bennett said the Eugene commercial real estate firm Evans, Elder, Brown & Seubert is already marketing the 10,000 square-foot space. She also said several factors in
Roseburg — steady population growth, the VA Medical Center and the efforts to open a medical college — bode well for the future of the Shopping Center.
Call me a glass-half-full persoN, but I tend to agree with Bennett’s optimism. I see a slow but steady renaissance taking place in downtown Roseburg, and I fully expect the pace of change there to quicken in 2020.
There is also the new activity at the Roseburg Marketplace, formerly known as the Roseburg Valley Mall. Before Planet Fitness even opened its doors there last month, it had sold 2,000 memberships, a manager there told me.
Next door, the Shoe Dept. Encore opened a few months ago and appears to be doing steady business. Shop there and you’ll see why — the store carries dozens of brands of shoes, including Jellypop, Bearpaw, Daisy Fuentes, Marbella, Kenneth Cole, Nunn Bush, K Swiss, Nike and Adidas, and gets in new merchandise weekly, the store manager said.
And next door to that the Ulta Beauty store appears ready to open any day now. I know zero about such stores but from everything I’ve read, Ulta is extremely popular. Ulta operates more than 1,200 stores in all 50 states, including a handful in Oregon along the I-5 corridor.
Yes, the closing of Pier 1 Imports is a tough pill to swallow for those who enjoyed shopping there, and especially for the store’s dozen or so employees.
But just what the closure means for the future of the Garden Valley Shopping Center, or Roseburg at large, is unclear.
As Tami Webster, who managed the Roseburg Pier 1 Imports store for the last decade, told me: “It is what it is.”