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               MILITARY CIRCLE MALL: NORFOLK, VA

Matthew's Commentary

User submitted December 29, 2011

Military Circle is a rare case, but far from unique. It's not quite dead and does in fact have a sizable population of stores. However, it's not really alive in a traditional sense either, and it clings to unlife by the presence of a booming food court and a handful of frequented stores. However, it has in the past few years been on the decline. It is effectively a zombie mall, but not the Romero kind.

The mall was opened some years ago as Military Circle Mall, and its anchors have been steadfast - a Sears, a J C Penny, and a Macy's. Kohl's also takes up a good chunk of the mall, but for the most part these are the only real long standing shops. A number of kiosks dot the three hallways that make up the main part of the center, but all but one or two are anything besides seasonal.

At one time, a Radio Shack, Suncoast, KB Toys, and Walden Books made up the backbone of the shopping environment. Other shops stayed in for quite some time, up until KB declared bankruptcy in 2009. When the store shut down finally, that seemed to be what started the decline elsewhere. Suncoast had been gone for two years at that point, and it was shortly after that Walden Books moved out. None of these three spaces have since been filled, and most of the other stores to come into the mall have been transient - airbrush t-shirt shops, clothing stores too much like what's already there, and at one point a paintball target range. The GameStop that once occupied the corner near the back entrance shut down, and the stores near it disappeared shortly afterward.

Currently, only the hall between Macy's and Sear's is largely unaffected, other than the empty spaces around the GameStop's former location. Besides its anchors, the main attractions to the mall are its Cinemark theater and the dollar store near it. It was purchased in 2009 after a number of the stores shut down by an investor wishing to boost its popularity, and is now known as The Gallery at Military Circle. The mall's website boasts over 100 shops, but many of them are not part of the mall complex or outparcels, and the list itself is outdated. It has an amazing number of stores for being in its condition, but has nearly as many vacancies as it does occupied spaces. The majority of its retail is now clothing, shoes, and beauty supplies.

Reviews of the mall are declining, with many of the more recent ones calling it "boring". While there is a steady flow of walkers and people in the food court, it seems most of them are either guests at the attached Doubletree or just hanging out, as I hardly ever see anyone carrying bags. It's also beginning to attract delinquents, as car break-ins have increased recently, as well as a handful of robberies at the nearby bus stops.

In the end, it's still alive if only barely, and will probably die soon. Some of the outparcel shops are doing ok, but even they are beginning to turn up empty. When so many of the remaining shops sell the same exact merchandise, it can be difficult to keep afloat.










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