Small business owner says he’s ‘toughing it out’ at near-vacant Glenwood Springs Mall
As Ross Dress for Less and the city’s Urban Renewal Authority (URA) battle in court over the future of the Glenwood Springs Mall goes on, one store owner said he remains optimistic despite facing plenty of hardships for being one of the mall’s few, remaining tenants.
“We always hear, ‘They need to knock it down and replace it,’” Goofballs Party Store owner Randy DeHerrera said. “We hear comments all the time from people walking by, saying, ‘This mall is a ghost town’ and how ‘it used to be great.’”
He and his wife BJ DeHerrera opened Goofballs in the Glenwood Springs Mall in December 2015, and said at the time business was exactly that — great.
Last December, Glenwood Springs City Council adopted two resolutions concerning the mall property owned by Frank Woods.
One determined the mall and associated properties to be blighted, based on a consultant’s findings.
The other subsequently approved the formation of the West Glenwood Springs URA to explore possible redevelopment or at least renovation of the site.
Since that time, Ross Dress For Less Inc. has sued the city, City Council and the Glenwood Springs URA in Garfield County District Court, leaving uncertain the fate of the mall property located at 51027 Highway 6 and 24.
Not a lawyer, but rather a local small business owner who has lived just minutes down Interstate 70 in New Castle since 2007, DeHerrera said mall owner Woods, since day one, had always treated him and his wife fairly.
DeHerrera did, however, acknowledge the fact that since Goofball’s opened, 10 stores had left the mall and to this day those spaces remain vacant.
“[We’ve] seen a significant decline of about 30 percent in sales,” DeHerrera said, noting the mall’s declining foot traffic. “But we are toughing it out.”
Despite the tough numbers, DeHerrera said Goofball’s Party Store was not going anywhere and hoped the community would remember the small businesses struggling to survive in the mall amid the controversy between Ross and the city’s URA.
While many consider enclosed malls, particularly in today’s retail market, a losing proposition, DeHerrera could not disagree more.
“Not everybody wants to stay home and shop from their computer,” DeHerrera said. “Amazon online ordering has definitely affected a lot of retail businesses, but there are still people who like to shop the old-fashioned way.
“They like to feel, they like to touch, they like to try items on, and just enjoy the overall shopping experience.”
It’s a shopping experience DeHerrera absolutely believes the Glenwood Springs Mall can offer again, with the right tenants in place.
Located in a 3,000-square-foot space, Goofball’s Party Store has what DeHerrera said is a loyal customer base that travels from all across the Western Slope to the Glenwood Springs Mall.
While DeHerrera said he and his wife enjoy when customers from Montrose or Vail frequent their store, they particular love serving the people of Glenwood Springs and its neighboring communities.
“This is where we want to be, and we really believe in the mall coming back,” DeHerrera said.
“People are going to have their perceptions of the mall and how the URA is going to handle things, but it is out of our hands,” he said. “We as a small business need to just continue to do the best that we possibly can to continue serving the community and our customers at a high level.”
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Several Carbondale businesses are scrambling to relocate and others are just plain calling it quits following plans for one of the town’s oldest strip malls to be redeveloped.