Stores continuously closing at Vernon Park Mall

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KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Another store closes at Vernon Park Mall. Sears says it’s going out of business sale ends July 2nd, but doesn’t say exactly when it will shut its doors for good.

“There was a lot more stores but now there’s nothing here. People use the mall basically for running or walking and exercising,” says Jermica Mumford.

Over a dozen stores have for rent signs in the blank windows. Stores still open include Belk, Goody’s, and Thomas Jewelers.

JCPenny’s closed earlier this year and sears is scheduled to close later this month.

Ruth Howard Fuller walks the mall every day, she says everyday less and less people are there.

“I kind of new downtown would come back but I was just totally surprised the mall going down, that was kind of a shock to me.”

She says the problem started when the food court left.

“The eating and dining places were taken out of here and you had to go outside to eat, which if we had those they would eat and shop and so I think that was the beginning of the fall.”

Kinston’s chamber of commerce says the main problem with the mall is the residents of Lenoir County shop elsewhere. That’s the reason the mall is declining and the stores are closing.

“People are already going to Belk and JCPenny and other large stores in other communities, which is unfortunately a challenge to our local stores to meet the goals that they need to keep their businesses open,” says Laura Lee Sylvester.

Laura Lee Sylvester, Chamber of Commerce President doesn’t see the mall closing and says the manager is working hard to promote the mall.

“I think the mall still has potential and I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen there it all depends on the owner and current manager might be able to do to turn it around but it’s certainly not going to put a drag on our community.”

We reached out to the mall’s manager to ask him what’s next for the shopping center. We haven’t heard back.

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