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. Tampa man pleads guilty to forging check for fake investment

    Personal Finance

    A Tampa resident was convicted Thursday for forging a check for a fake investment. The Florida Office of Financial Regulation said that Eric Franz Peer pleaded guilty. He served 11 months in jail and will have to pay $18,000.

  2. Minority business accelerator launch by Tampa chamber to aid black, Hispanic businesses

    Business

    A "minority business accelerator" program was launched Thursday by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce geared toward helping black and Hispanic business owners identify and overcome barriers to grow their companies. The accelerator, known as MBA, will provide participants with business tools to cultivate opportunities …

    Bemetra Simmons is a senior private banker at Wells Fargo, The Private Bank. She is also chair of the new minority business accelerator program for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. [Photo, LinkedIn]
  3. Terrier Tri brings unique triathlon training to South Tampa

    Business

    Over a decade ago, Robert Pennino traded late nights in the music studio for early mornings in the Terrier Tri cycle studio.

    Terrier Tri, a cycling studio in South Tampa celebrates a grand opening on June 27. Photo courtesy of Tess Hipp.
  4. New bistro hopes to serve as 'adult Chuck E. Cheese'

    Business

    YBOR CITY — Inside Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy, a new restaurant opening in Ybor City, customers will find a mix of family recipes, games and secrecy.

    Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy readies to open in Ybor City. Photo courtesy of Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy.
  5. Ramadan having an economic impact on local charities, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Dodging the rain, a few families and customers gathered inside Petra Restaurant on Busch Boulevard. Around 8:30 p.m., the adham (or call to prayer) music begins, signaling Iftar, the end of the daily fast. Customers grabbed a plate to dig into the feast.

    Baha Abdullah, 35, the owner of the Sultan Market makes kataif, a common dessert that is eaten during the month long celebration of Ramadan in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]