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. Toys 'R' Us files for bankruptcy but keeps stores open (w/video)

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Toys 'R' Us, the big box toy retailer struggling with $5 billion in debt and intense online competition, has filed for bankruptcy protection ahead of the key holiday shopping season — and says its stores will remain open for business as usual.

    Shoppers shop in a Toys R Us store on Black Friday in Miami in 2016. Toys R Us, the pioneering big box toy retailer, announced late Monday, Sept. 18, 2017 it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection while continuing with normal business operations. [Associated Press]
  2. Trigaux: Waiting for your next pay raise? Keep dreaming, employers hint

    Working Life

    The economy's bouncing back. The stock market keeps hitting new records. And the jobless rate in Florida may soon drop below 4 percent. Surely, these are robust indicators — key signs that an annual raise is just around the corner. Right?

    Who doesn't want a pay raise? Demonstrators have rallied for years in a number of states for a $15 minimum wage. But many workers across a broad pay range are unlikely to see much if any raises this year, a new survey says. [AP Photo/Seth Wenig]
  3. Florida Guard scales down troop strength; Navy sails away from the Keys

    State Roundup

    The Florida National Guard on Monday drew down its activated statewide forces to about 1,200 on-duty troops, mostly in operations focused on relief distribution in the Florida Keys — and the last of a mini-armada of U.S. Navy ships off Key West set sail for home.

    Soldiers from the Florida National Guard's Delta Company, 1st Battallion, 124th Infantry, 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team on Sept. 14. The Federal Emergency Managment Agency has reported that 25-percent of all homes in the Florida Keys were destroyed and 65-percent sustained major damage when they took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma.  [Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images]
  4. LOCALE Market hosting St. Pete job fair for hospitality positions

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — Locale Market / FarmTable Kitchen is hosting a hospitality job fair Tuesday in St. Petersburg. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the LOCALE Market at 179 2nd Ave. North, St. Petersburg. Organizers said they hope to hire about 20 workers with a focus on displaced workers from Hurricane …

    Locale Market is hosting job fair on Tues., Feb. 19. [LARA CERRI | Times] 

  5. So far, 335,000 Irma claims totalling $1.95 billion filed in Florida

    Business

    Times Staff Writer

    As of Sunday afternoon, insurers had received a total of 335,347 claims statewide for insured damage totalling $1.95 billion caused by Hurricane Irma, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation reported Monday based on preliminary figures.

    This shows a damaged mobile home inside Clover Leaf Farms RV Park in Brooksville. So far, insurers have received a total of 335,347 claims statewide for insured damage totalling $1.95 billion caused by Hurricane Irma.
[MEGAN REEVES   |   Times]