The retail apocalypse leaves vacant box stores from sea to shining sea

Kmart closed and left the large box store empty back in 2016.

LOGAN – Large retailers are vacating their buildings and leaving their empty carcasses behind with miles of parking lots in Cache Valley and around the country. Business Insider predicted some 8,600 retail stores will close in 2019 as the retail apocalypse continues.

Earlier this year, Macey’s consolidated two stores to the Providence location, leaving a large empty space in Logan.

In 2015, Sports Authority closed and so did Gold’s Gym in Logan. Kmart closed in 2016. Macey’s north store and ShopKo shut their doors this year. Smaller stores like Sears, Payless Shoes, Bed, Bath and Beyond have also closed recently throughout Cache Valley.

Mike DeSimone, director for community development for Logan City, said there isn’t a lot the city can do with the those empty retail stores because they don’t own them. For the most part, the closed retail stores are owned by people from out of town.

“The empty buildings are a sign of the changing nature of retail,” DeSimone said. “There is not a lot of need for that kind of space anymore.”

Retail box stores are leaving their carcasses and large empty parking lots in several areas in Cache Valley.

He said he likes to handle products before he buys them, but kids nowadays buy it online and you can have anything from shoelaces to hats delivered to your front door.

“The old stores could be partitioned off or be torn down,” DeSimone claimed. “They just may have to sit there a while until their value comes up again.”

Kirk Jensen, who also works for Logan City’s economic department, said the building owners secure their own tenants. They may hire a real estate professional, or they may go it alone. He said he does make periodic contacts with companies to create interest in Logan City.

“I give potential companies housing information and other property availability and contact information,” he said. “We do play a role in trying to bring attention to real estate opportunities by playing a marketing function.”

He said whether it be a shopping center or malls, everyone is trying to backfill their spaces across the country.

“Malls and shopping centers are trying to bring different uses to their spaces, trying to gain new tenants,” Jensen said. “Everything in retail is in a state of flux.”

Shopko, which closed this year, was part of a chain of retail stores based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The company was founded in 1962 by James Ruben.

Chase Butterfield, who handles economic development for North Logan City, said they have been working to fill the Kmart building. They recently formed the North Logan City Economic Development Committee to help with the task, but the space is privately owned by a group from New York.

“It is up to the company in New York,” Butterfield said. “We are trying to come with options by looking at other Kmart’s and the companies that move into the buildings.”

One concern is bringing someone that would compete with other businesses.

“It’s an ongoing thing and a slow process,” he said. “One of the problems is it’s a privately owned company and they want New York prices and the cost is too high.”

In 1962, the first Walmart, Kmart, Target and ShopKo stores opened and began to dot the landscape in the United States. They had a big place in the US economy for about 50 years.

In the 1980’s ShopKo Stores made $1 billion in sales then in 2018 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Walmart has found a place in the internet retail marketplace and is trying to keep pace with online giant Amazon. The rest were slow to react and took a hit form internet retail companies.

Despite the doomed retail stores and the change in retail philosophy, Cache Valley still has one of the strongest economies in the state, with an unemployment rate of 1.9% in September, while the state is 2.7$. The U.S. average is 3.5% in September, according to Utah Department of Workforce Services.

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  • Denise November 6, 2019 at 11:34 am Reply

    I will be honest? It scares me. Most likely because I am older and grew up with all these retail companies. I don’t mind shopping online, but hate to have to return things that end up not fitting. What happens when there are no longer retail stores left and everything is online? I don’t think I for one will like that. I like going in… wandering around looking at things… trying them on… handling them… sigh

  • Bev Schiefer November 6, 2019 at 11:47 am Reply

    Why doesn’t Cache Valley have a Costco or a Target or a Trader Joe’s? These retailers almost always are successful!

  • cache cache November 6, 2019 at 12:25 pm Reply

    “anything from shoelaces to hats” hahahahahahahaha. what a variety!

  • Kellie November 6, 2019 at 1:35 pm Reply

    What if they become distribution centers or something that needs the massive size and a centered location at the city heart or nearby

    • Blaine November 6, 2019 at 3:58 pm Reply

      Guess Logan could become a distribution center for what, the Preston area? Unfortunately, we are not very central we are the ones off in the distance on the spokes of Distribution

  • Dean Vollmer November 6, 2019 at 4:01 pm Reply

    The real problem with retail is naive , falsely educated young people . They don’t seem to realize the easy way has long range collateral damage . By buying from huge marketers like Amazon you will be giving up choice and freedom down the road . When there’s nothing left but the giants they will control you . It’s the same thing with centralized government , you’re surrendering your life to a few powerful people . And by the way the free stuff the government is promising you YOU will be paying for the rest of your life .Are you naive enough to think the evil power hungry rich are going to give you free stuff . Wake up .

  • Susan November 6, 2019 at 8:42 pm Reply

    We’ve been here about three years and would love to see a Winco, Cosco, and Target locally. I think all of them would do well.

  • Kimberly November 6, 2019 at 8:56 pm Reply

    I think we could enhance the shopping experience as well as keep the shopping in Logan if we are smart! First off, the mall needs to reach out to bigger companies and bring them to our mall! We need a better food court and wider selection of stores! It now contains the same style of stores! Also, we need bigger department stores! Target, Macy’s. The mall needs to hold the existing stores to a facelift, JC penny’s to name one! It’s outdated! We need to fix what we have and maybe big corporations will come to Logan! It’s sad to hear and experience having to leave Cache Valley to shop! Let’s keep it in Cache Valley and as a community, let’s support the shops we still have!!
    I could go on all day with lots of ideas but, what are the people in charge really doing to keep the shoppers here?? I feel like they have thrown in the towel!! Saddens me!!!

  • Carl Stettler November 7, 2019 at 7:43 am Reply

    I think that WINCO would very well at any place along Tenth West but Main Street? No, thank you. Costco would love a business here, but New York Investors should get their heads out of sandboxes and start visiting places and see for themselves. I love to touch before I buy them.

  • Phil November 8, 2019 at 5:39 pm Reply

    What about those so called wages…is it true that Costco or Target won’t come here cause of our wage differences. The benefits they provide are amazing as well as wages. It would not only benefit them bit also benefit the employees in obtaining quality health care programs. Seems this would not only boost our economy but serve the community as well. This would help folks who have two jobs attempting,to make ends meet by having one job, be able to pay their monthly bills and rent.

  • David Sweeney November 13, 2019 at 7:10 pm Reply

    Cities shouldn’t talk like there’s nothing they can do about this problem. They overzoned for big boxes and lavished public subsidies to recruit them. Here are some things they can do to fix it.

    Adopt a general vacant or abandoned property ordinance that compels the property owner to maintain it, grants the City access to maintain it if the owner cannot, and attach a lien which allows for property acquisition if maintenance is not done.

    Rezone the property (e.g, mixed use).

    Enact a moratorium on retail development of stores over, say, 100,000 square feet.

    Eliminate existing retail zones that are undeveloped (similar effect as a moratorium).

    Retailers have little incentive to reuse these spaces, and in many cases, contracts prevent leasing to a competitor. The City could pass an ordinance that voids this non-compete clause.

    Create a financing district that encourages the private sector to explore adaptive reuse or redevelopment. You spent the money to create this mess, you’ll have to spend some to get out of it. And that’s OK, because these buildings are a drain on the tax base, and literally any use would be better than what you’ve got.

    This is not a local issue. Where cities are pre-empted from effective policy making, they should form a regional coalition and lobby the State to produce enabling legislation and supportive financing.

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