By Shereen Siewert
At least two more stores will close at Wausau Center mall, with unconfirmed reports of as many as three more imminent closures at the troubled shopping center.
Hibbett Sports and Yankee Candle Co. are ceasing operations at the mall, reducing the number of stores from a high of about 60 to 29. Wausau Pilot and Review is seeking confirmation on reports that three additional stores are closing at the shopping center, but mall officials were not immediately available to confirm those closures early Tuesday.
Readers have told Wausau Pilot and Review they received emails from Things Remembered alerting them that the Wausau location will close. A representative from the store, reached by phone early Tuesday, said she was unable to comment. In July, the company announced plans to begin selling their engraved products through Amazon as a way to reach new customers.
Corporate officials have not yet responded to a request for comment.
The confirmed closures are the latest development for the facility, which after decades of popularity as the hub of the city’s downtown shopping district has struggled to retain retailers after losing all three anchor stores.
Voters in Wausau passed a 1979 referendum to allow the Jacobs Group to build the mall. Approximately 67 buildings were demolished to make way for the shopping center, which opened on August 3, 1983 with nearly 60 stores and restaurants.
In 2006, the mall owners began a renovation which included new seating areas and an improved mall entrance. Two years later, the food court was expanded, using space vacated that same year by a McDonald’s restaurant.
But slow economy and an increase in online sales led to a downturn in the mall’s popularity over the past several years. Anchor stores J.C. Penney closed in 2014, while Sears pulled out in 2016. More stores, including Gap and Hollister, also closed their storefronts in 2014, and Payless Shoe Source closed in 2017. More closures followed in 2018 including The Children’s Place, Gamestop and the mall’s last remaining anchor store, Younkers.
The Younkers space, owned by a private entity not connected to the mall’s current owners, was sold in late 2018 to HOM Furniture, which is now transforming the space into a new furniture store slated to open in March.