Store owners have mixed feelings about Valley West's future

DES MOINES, Iowa - Store owners have mixed feelings about the future of Valley West Mall if one of it's anchor store leaves.

Von Maur recently announced plans to move into space at Jordan Creek Town Center, which is only four-and-a-half miles away from Valley West.

The Davenport-based department store chain hasn't said it intends to close its Valley West Mall location, and the mall hasn't been informed of any changes by Von Maur.

But Jordan Creek is a newer, larger mall that sits in the middle of a high growth area in West Moines, and Von Maur's CEO has indicated that the Des Moines market could support only one of its stores.

Von Maur is moving into a space at Jordan Creek Town Center once occupied by Younkers, a department store chain that shuttered in 2018 after its parent company went bankrupt. Younkers also operated a store at Valley West.

Becky Gustin has owned Becky's Hallmark in Valley West Mall for six year. She says her business hasn't been the same after Younkers closed. "We are next to the old Younkers," said Gustin. "When Younkers closed down, we lost a lot of foot traffic. I feel that will be the same, even though Von Maur is at a different end of the mall. Your still going to lose those people."

If Von Maur were to leave Valley West Mall, the shopping center would be left with only one anchor store - J.C. Penny - a struggling retailer.

Stacey Shuurmann, the owner of Artfull, says her business doesn't rely on foot traffic because it's an "experienced based" destination. "It's not so much people walking by and seeing my store and coming in because my store requires time," said Shuurmann. "It's more of a planned visit."

Artfull is an arts and crafts studio that offers activities for kids. Shuurmann notes her store is located in a section of Valley West with other "experienced based" business, such as a ballet academy and a children's museum.

The Minneapolis-based owner of Valley West announced a plan this year to renovate the mall by adding more "experience-based" stores like like Artfull, along with restaurants and entertainment venues.

But Gustin, the owner of Becky's Hallmark, thinks Valley West is quickly becoming a "ghost mall." "I do, I really do," Gustin said. "It just seems like in this past year you just see stores closing more and more." Gustin says she has a plan to deal with diminishing foot traffic at Valley West, but declined to say whether it included leaving the mall for a different location.

Von Maur is abandoning earlier plans to build in own structure at Jordan Creek Town Center now that it's moving to space previously occupied by Younkers.

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