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               APPLE BLOSSOM MALL: WINCHESTER, VA

Lee Snapp's Commentary

Posted September 3, 2006 (user submitted)

The Apple Blossom Mall was built in 1982 on the south side of Winchester, VA. It holds about 80 stores and three anchors, Sears, JCPenney, and Belk. The mall isn't dead yet, but time will tell what happens to this smaller regional mall.

Winchester is a very fast growing community about 70 miles west of Washington, D.C. It holds several national chains, but the line-up changes too frequently and tenants tend to come and go all the time. The only stores that remain now in the mall since it opened are the movie theater, Chick-fil-A, Zales Jewelers, Radio Shack, and Ritz Camera. The mall still holds a Pacific Sun, American Eagle, Aeropostale, Hot Topic, and some jewelery stores. The mall just recently added Select Comfort (a bed store with a lot of locations in the DC area), Hollister, and New York and Company.

I would say the mall saw its best days in the late 90s, with the line-up of chains including Casual Corner, Express, Structure, Gap, American Eagle, Gadzooks, American Outfitters, County Seat, Limited, Journeys, Maurices, and the Ground Round (small chain of restaurant/bars based out of the Northeast).

By Summer of 2001, Casual Corner had long left the mall, as well as Express, Structure, Maurices, Limited, County Seat (chain went bankrupt in the later 1990's and this store was one of the last one closed), Ground Round, and American Outfitters. Pac Sun and Aeropostale opened in Spring 2002, and Gap left shortly after this. Hot Topic opened in 2003, Gadzooks left in 2004, and Hollister opened right before Christmas 2005. New York and Company just recently opened up in May 2006.

The line-up of stores has changed many times throughout the year and more competition has entered the market. Old Navy opened up a store in Winchester in 2005, but it was outside the mall. Talbots, Chicos, and Jos. A Bank Clothiers now also operate, but not inside the mall. Foot traffic inside the mall is usually low, so I honestly don't know how as many stores as are in there today are still operating.

The mall has remained unchanged, with no renovations since it opened in 1982. There also are several problems with teenagers hanging out in the mall on the weekends, causing problems inside the mall with loitering and scaring many people out of the mall. The parking lot also has lots of potholes and hasn't been re-paved since the mall opened. I actually had one of my tires blow out on my car after going over one of the potholes along the outer edge of the mall last winter.

There are also quite a few malls within less than an hour of Winchester that have more to offer and don't have the dark, depressing interior that Apple Blossom has.

Winchester is fast growing mainly due to all the commuters who moved out here from points east close to Washington, D.C. So all the people who were used to the malls down there such as Dulles Town Center continue to drive there to shop. The Apple Blossom Mall has way too high of a turnover rate and just doesn't satisfy a lot of the locals in this area. They are also combining too many store spaces (for example, turning two different spaces into one) and that is lowering the number of stores in the mall. I guess time will tell what the future holds for Apple Blossom Mall. Without renovations and retaining more tenants for longer periods of time, the future really doesn't seem all that promising for this regional mall.

Links:

Simon Properties - Press release regarding future renovations.

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