Durango Mall: challenges face local business hub

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Katie Rydz, Reporter

Instead of vibrant commerce and frenzied customers, empty spaces characterize the Durango Mall. The mall has always been struggling to be a place that people actually shop, but nowadays it seems that the mall is empty as ever. Due to a changing retail economy in Durango and elsewhere, a small population, and multiple other factors, it seems people aren’t interested in the Durango Mall and instead choose other areas of the four corners as an alternative.

“The mall used to have a bowling alley, probably where Sport’s Authority used to be, and a K-Mart there was also a sort of breakfast food court,” said former Durango Mayor and current DHS Dean Dale Garland.

 

Durango has had issues with attracting large businesses and franchises to the small town. “When Walmart wanted to build a store here, they wanted to build their own idea of a store, so we worked with them to change it to fit in with Durango, and make it look pleasing,” said Garland. Durango doesn’t have many large franchise stores such as Walmart because it’s difficult and costly to get deliveries in and out.

Garland also mentioned that, “It’s more effective for a delivery truck to drive up to Denver and drop off supplies to multiple stores instead of going up there and then coming all the way down to Durango and filling up one store here and one in, say, Farmington.” this wastes gas and re valuable time. “Attracting big business here in any case is hard because of the fact that Durango also has a small population,” Garland added.

The mall has definitely made some improvements, which include adding larger franchise stores such as Pier 1 Imports and Bed Bath & Beyond, and most recently, Ross. But the question is: why wasn’t the long-time vacant Sport’s Authority replaced with Ross? Why are there so many unoccupied spaces in the Durango Mall?

Garland said that Ross could’ve wanted to personalize their own space.

Jack Llewellyn is the Executive Director of Durango’s Chamber of Commerce, a very active organization that acts as a large voice for small business and is composed of about 830 members. He believes that one factor affecting malls nationally is online shopping.

“People prefer the comfort of their own home than walking into a store to buy something,” Llewellyn said, “So Ross might’ve opened next to TJMaxx because of foot traffic.”

TJMaxx and Ross are popular stores in the mall, so having them next to each other is  more convenient for customers, which increases the chances for a customer to go straight from one store to the other.

Similar to Garland, Llewellyn believes that our small population has a lot to do with how much business and economy Durango has, which affects our mall.

 

“The mall is always looking for tenants and talking to retailers to go into Sports Authority,” said Llewellyn.

Businesses in Durango, such as the mall, have always been struggling and still do because of economical factors. On the other hand, the lack of large franchises may not be a bad thing.But living in a small town such as Durango is also great, because of the fact that there are so many small businesses.

Garland agrees, saying, “I support small businesses, and I’m happy to live in a town that still does.”

Most people choose to go to the Farmington mall, or elsewhere if they really want to go shopping because the Durango Mall has always been lacking. As the economy changes for large franchises, people are shopping online more and more. Maybe it’s better to focus on our local businesses instead of on a dying model.