Another Store Plans to Leave Westdale Mall

By Mark Geary, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS -- Another store is pulling out of Westdale Mall.

The news comes just one day after the Cedar Rapids city council voted to delay any major development at the mall for six months.

The idea is to prevent anyone from breaking apart the mall's property.

Shirley Diehl and her granddaughter haven't shopped at Westdale for months.

They've heard about the problems there, but they didn't realize half of the mall's stores have closed.

"I'm just shocked today to walk through here with my granddaughter and see all the stores that are empty. I just think it's really sad," Diehl said.

Coach House Gifts is an original mall tenant. Now it's moving out, too.

"I think it's a very nice store. You can always find unusual gifts and cute sayings like we've been standing here reading. So, yes, it's a very nice store," Diehl said.

Some items will go on sale. The rest will just get shipped to other stores. Store employees knew this would probably happen. They've watched many of their customers walk away from Westdale.

"That's the hardest part. You do build up relationships with the regular customers and the mall walkers and you just don't have that anymore," Kathy Goecke, a Coach House Gifts employee, said.

Cedar Rapids city leaders say they want to work with whomever buys the property. But, customers wonder if it's already too late.

"It's going to be hard to get businesses to come back in here when you see so many empty stores now. I'd be leery of it myself if I was a business person," Diehl said.

Goecke is a little more optimistic.

"I'm sure there's something that can be done to turn it around, what that is, I don't exactly know," Goecke said.

And that's part of the problem. No one seems to know how to save the dying mall.

Coach House Gifts will close on March 25.

E-mail Mark Geary at Mark.Geary@kcrg.com
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