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JC's 5 Star Outlet, anchor at Fairgrounds Square Mall, to close all stores

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
69 News, (follow: @69news), news@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 01 2013 11:20:49 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 01 2013 05:10:08 PM CDT

The Fairgounds Square Mall in Berks County has been dealt yet another blow.

MUHLENBERG TWP., Pa. -

The Fairgounds Square Mall in Berks County has been dealt yet another blow.

Shoppers at JC's 5 Start Outlet/JCPenney Outlet got more than they bargained for Tuesday when they walked into the anchor store at the mall in Muhlenberg Township. Officials announced their plans to close all 15 of the company's stores across the country.

"There's a woman that's worked there for 33 years and she informed me she's very upset and emotional about it, and it's going to be sad to see it go," said Rose, who has shopped at the store for years,

Sixty-six employees will be lose their jobs at the Fairgrounds store, and about 1,400 workers will be out of a job in total.

"That's a shame because the value in there is unbelievable, especially if you have children," said Frank Donato, who shops regularly at the outlet store.

The Fairgrounds store is one of the mall's original anchors, opening as a JCPenney store in 1980. It was converted to an outlet in 1999.

JCPenney then announced in 2011 its plans to close the outlet stores, but a purchase by SB Acquisitions prevented that from happening and the stores were re-branded as JC's 5 Star Outlet.

"The closing of the outlets was necessitated by the precipitous decline of sales. After exploring all the alternatives, we could no longer incur the losses resulting from the continued operation of the outlet stores," said the company's CEO, Glen Gammons.

Starting Wednesday, expect to see blowout sales, with discounts ranging up to 50 percent off to try and liquidate the company's $70 million inventory.

"Our plan is to sell as much inventory as well as the fixtures from the stores as possible," said Todd Hutchins, a spokesman for the company.

"It's a good place to shop and you don't like to see things closing down. It's not a good sign the economy is recovering," said Marigold, who is disappointed the store is closing.

There is no set date when the store will close, but it is expected to remain open through the holidays.

The Fairgrounds Square Mall, which opened in 1980, was sold for $13.6 million in a U.S. Marshal auction in Philadelphia earlier this year.

The bank was the mortgage holder for the mall's former owner, which owed more than $44 million in payments and interest, officials said.

The mall's number of tenants have dwindled in recent years. The most recent losses include Chef Alan's restaurant and a Hallmark Gold Crown store.

The mall's remaining anchor stores include Boscov's North and Burlington Coat Factory.