BRISTOL, Va. – The nearly vacant Bristol Mall is losing another longtime tenant at the end of the month.
The owner of Misty Mountain Designs, a locally owned clothing store, announced Thursday she will close Feb. 26 after nearly two decades in business. That will leave the mall with just five stores.
“The decision to close the mall location was made when Sears announced they were closing,” owner Sue Smith said. “When I contacted management to find out if they had anything coming behind Sears and management couldn’t really give me anything concrete. The more we talked, the more apparent that it feels as though they’re considering the mall for another type of use.”
Smith opened the mall store in 1997 and sells a variety of clothing, sterling silver jewelry, collectible stones, and tapestry items. She said while she’s sad to see her original store close, her second location on State Street in downtown Bristol will stay open. “We have been open in downtown for three years,” Smith said. “We are really going to have to take advantage of the space we have when it comes to our merchandise and what we are selling.”
The mall store is around 3,800 square feet, while the downtown location is just 900 square feet. For Smith, the consolidation of stores means reorganization.
“With a smaller space, I’m going to have to narrow it down to those items that really sell quickly,” Smith said. “That’s a shame because it’s only going to benefit the masses and it’s not going to benefit those people who come in and like the unusual or eclectic merchandise we sell.”
An abundance of merchandise remains at the mall location and Smith has already started to move some downtown. She’s also discounting items to make the move a bit easier.
Smith said she is encouraging everyone to come out and shop at the Bristol Mall location.
“Anybody who comes into the mall store over the next week will be able to take advantage of some savings,” Smith said. “We haven’t announced how much items will be discounted, but we will be offering some good cash incentives and it depends on what you’re looking at buying, too.”
Mall Manager Nancy Mitchell declined comment on the closing.
Once Misty Mountain is shuttered, the mall will be at less than 10 percent of its capacity with just Belmeade Formal Wear, GameStop, Bath & Body Works, Bounce Bristol, and KSS, a school supplies store, remaining.
Opened in 1975, the Bristol Mall was for decades the retail destination in the Twin City. But in the last couple of years, it’s had a series of closings. Most recently, anchor Sears announced it will close at the end of March. Some closings, like Sears and J.C. Penney, came as a result of the retailers closing several stores. Other stores have moved, with several relocating to The Pinnacle development in Bristol, Tennessee.
“Time to rethink the Bristol Mall,” Rick Hughes said in a Thursday post on the Bristol Herald Courier’s Facebook page. “More people walking, including myself, than shopping every day.”