Valley View Mall Hy-Vee location to change typical mall format

As malls struggle to bring in costumers Valley View Mall adds atypical businesses to bring people back.
Valley View Mall

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – People will soon have the option of shopping for groceries at Valley View Mall. Monday, Hy-Vee became the mall’s latest addition with plans to move into the former Sears location. Valley View Mall’s business was improving.

“We were running like a 20 percent increase and then COVID hit,” said Jeff Odom, general manager of Valley View Mall.

Odom said they were hitting their stride despite losing three anchor stores in recent years. Losing those stores still didn’t help matters.

“Department store-wise it was devastating, to say the least,” Odom said.

Those losses and a pandemic are felt in the mall’s hallways as less foot traffic moves across this building. Tod Wilson has fought against an industry that gives every business owner a reason to quit.

“We’ve been in the mall for almost 13 years now,” Wilson said. “I grew up in actually Chippewa Falls Wisconsin. We work pretty hard. My whole family’s employed actually by our businesses.”

He’s the owner of the popular Pop Con Shop that has locations at the mall and the Wisconsin Dells. Wilson recently brought a new idea to life.

“We’re not just giving you a dish of ice cream,” Wilson said. “We’re giving you something that has fun elements added to it.”

Tumstrum’s Treats Emporium is a creation he completed during the pandemic.

“Because of COVID-19 we couldn’t do self serve anymore,” he said.

The previous owner of the self-serve yogurt shop at this location moved on, and Wilson saw an opportunity.

He couldn’t foresee COVID-19, but he was prepared for the unexpected.

“I had planned for it,” he said. “I had run my business with no debt.”

After the Tomah VA moved in on one end of the mall, Monday, Hy-Vee grocery store sprinkled some more good news.

“It generates traffic and traffic generates people having interest in opening up new business,” Odom said.

Even though the mall has lost several anchor stores over the years, not all of its anchor stores are struggling.

“I think it’s just finding a niche that works,” Odom said. “I think Barnes and Noble has done that.”

Wilson found his niche.

“It’s a seven-day-a-week job, but it’s kind of play too at the same time,” Wilson said.

Hy-Vee’s announcement also creates a thing the business community calls synergy.

“The announcement was made and the phone starts ringing,” Odom said.

The new store isn’t the status quo for the mall

“Typically a mall doesn’t have a grocery store at the end of it,” Wilson said.

The atypical business may be what saves the typical storefront. It’s a cherry on top for everyone doing there best to make their business a success.

Odom said he is not sure what Hy-Vee’s storefront will look like.  He said the new addition will also benefit outlying stores off of the mall’s campus.