LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - It is known an anchor store like Macy's keeps a mall grounded, but now things might start to get a little rocky.
The announcement that Macy's will be closing 68 stores across the country, including the one at Valley View Mall in La Crosse, surprised many shoppers.
And now it has many wondering what's next for the mall.
"A lot of those smaller shops will feel the loss of some of those people that always shopped at Macy's, that now are looking for a new place to shop," said Vicki Markussen, executive director with the La Crosse Chamber of Commerce.
Markussen said with more people turning to online shopping, department stores are facing a new battle, one that includes getting creative with how to utilize their space.
"So a lot of department stores are looking at bringing in smaller boutiques within their department stores to even attract new people, the foot traffic to keep them in, and then also just to better utilize the real estate that they own because in some locations, Macy's owns the location. and so they have a sale of the real estate that needs to happen on top of it," she said.
There are about 57 people currently employed at Macy's in La Crosse but Markussen said an important reminder comes during an uncertain time:
"I have heard time and time again from employers regardless of size, regardless of industry, that they are in desperate need of qualified workers."
While employees may have other opportunities, shoppers say with a mall already limited in options, they may have to turn elsewhere.
"Probably order online or go to the cities," said Laurie Turner, a frequent Macy's shopper.
Others say while they can turn to the virtual stores, their hometown mall is still taking a big loss.
"As you lose your anchor stores, then the other stores tend to go out too then you don't get your draw of shoppers as much so it's very important for the mall to stay as full as possible," said Macy's shopper Sue Moser.
According to Real Estate company PREIT, Valley View Mall in La Crosse draws from a 50 mile trade area and had sales of approximately $400 per square foot through September of 2016.
Macy's location in La Crosse sold the building to General Growth Properties in 2016 and is currently leased.
The store is just over 100,000 square feet and is set to close by March of this year.
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