Make us your home page
Instagram

Despite defections, Gulf View Square tenants, manager see hope for mall

PORT RICHEY

At 3:45 on a recent weekday afternoon, a walk through Gulf View Square mall was mostly quiet.

"To put it in perspective, I went to Countryside (mall in Clearwater)," said Steve Baginskie, who owns Yancy Street Comics, a comic shop at Gulf View Square. "They were as busy on a Monday as this mall is on a Saturday."

But despite smaller crowds and recent defections of stores, Baginskie and other Gulf View tenants say all is not lost. And they still have hope for the 36-year-old mall's future.

Yancy Street Comics has been at Gulf View Square for six years, Baginskie said.

"You can tell on the weekends that traffic is way down from when we originally moved into the mall," he said.

He suspects the decline in foot traffic is due in part to the departures of two department stores that had been anchors at Gulf View: JCPenney in the summer of 2014 and Macy's in the spring of 2015.

"When Macy's left, I thought it would put a little bit of a damper on the holidays," Baginskie said. "It did not. We actually had our best Christmas ever."

The owner of Wilma, a candle and soap shop that opened at the mall in November 2014, had a similar experience.

"We thought Penney's closing was going to be terrible," said Brenda Kennedy, who runs Wilma with its owner, her daughter, Wendy Zak.

"One would think (the JCPenney closure) would very directly affect us because it was right next to our store," Zak said. But "now that they've been gone for close to a year and a half, our sales have still been ticking up."

The store thrived during the 2015 holiday shopping season, Kennedy said. "We had the best December yet."

But not all of the mall's tenants found the 2015 holiday shopping season to be bountiful.

"(Sales) did pick up at Christmastime, but it wasn't good enough," said Carol Merritt, who owns a shop called Pyrate Isle Hot Sauces.

Oscar Rodriguez, the mall's manager since last April, could not provide numbers, but said sales across the mall during the holiday season were comparable with the national average.

Rodriguez said the mall's vacancy rate is "very low" — a handful out of a hundred spaces. He also said he does not believe that Gulf View Square has been negatively affected by Tampa Premium Outlets, the outlet mall that opened last fall in Wesley Chapel.

"We have a lot of potential," Rodriguez said. "There's always a possibility (for sales) to be better."

That's one of his goals for the mall, he said.

"When the mall was built (in 1980), it was based on the demographics at that time," Rodriguez said. "The demographic has changed. Now, we have a lot of younger families, more kids, a lot of teens. We need more children's stores, or entertainment for the teenagers — something that will keep them here."

JCPenney, he said, has been replaced by World of Decor, which opens two weekends each month to auction antiques and furniture from "all over the world." The space that Macy's once occupied remains vacant, but a replacement, he said, "is in the pipeline."

Another of his goals is for the mall to host more free events that promote the good of the community, such as a job fair and a monthly 5K race on mall property.

And there won't be a catch, Rodriguez said.

"At the end of the day, if (participants) need to do some shopping, that's at their will," he said.

Zak said there is good reason to shop at Gulf View Square.

"It's not just big-box chains that are here," she said. "There are smaller, locally owned businesses."

Baginskie remains hopeful that traffic will bounce back.

"There's always hope," he said.

Contact Arleen Spenceley at (727) 869-6235 or aspenceley@tampabay.com. Follow @ArleenSpenceley.

>>FAST FACTS

Gulf View Square mall

• Gulf View Square mall is at 9409 U.S. 19 in Port Richey.

• Hours are from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.

• Anchor stores are Best Buy, Dillard's, Sears and T.J. Maxx.

• The mall, which opened in March 1980, has 756,356 square feet of retail floor space.

• For additional information, visit shopgulfviewsquare.com.

Despite defections, Gulf View Square tenants, manager see hope for mall 05/05/16 [Last modified: Thursday, May 5, 2016 10:18am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. The real estate pros in charge of Tampa's $3 billion makeover are younger than you think

    Working Life

    TAMPA — Brooke May, a 36-year-old senior construction project manager, knew she wanted to work for Strategic Property Partners the minute she met some team members involved with the group's massive downtown Tampa makeover.

    Matt Davis, Vice President of Development posed for a portrait in the Strategic Property Partners office in Channelside on July 12, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  2. St. Pete Beach may loosen beach drinking rules for hotel guests

    Local Government

    ST. PETE BEACH — Drinking a beer, a cocktail or a glass of wine may soon be legal on this city's beaches, but only for hotel guests in and around their hotel's beachfront cabanas.

    Registered hotel guests would be able to drink alcoholic beverages at their cabanas on the beach under a new rule the St. Pete Beach City Commission is considering.  

  3. PunditFact: George Will's comparison of tax preparers, firefighters based on outdated data

    Business

    The statement

    "America has more people employed as tax preparers (1.2 million) than as police and firefighters."

    George Will, July 12 in a column

    The ruling

    WASHINGTON - JANUARY 08: Conservative newspaper columnist George Will poses on the red carpet upon arrival at a salute to FOX News Channel's Brit Hume on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hume was honored for his 35 years in journalism. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
  4. Appointments at Shutts & Bowen and Tech Data highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Legal

    Retired U.S. Navy Commander Scott G. Johnson has joined Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office as a senior attorney in the firm's Government Contracts and Corporate Law Practice Groups. Johnson brings 15 years of legal experience and 24 years of naval service to his position. At Shutts, Scott will …

    United States Navy Commander (Retired) Scott G. Johnson joins Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office. [Company handout]
  5. Macy's chairman replaces ex-HSN head Grossman on National Retail Federation board

    Retail

    Terry Lundgren, chairman of Macy's Inc., will replace Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman as chair of the National Retail Federation, the organization announced Wednesday. Grossman stepped down from her position following her move from leading St. Petersburg-based HSN to Weight Watchers.

    Weight Watchers CEO and former HSN chief Mindy Grossman is being replaced as chair of the National Retail Federation. [HSN Inc.]