Amber Nelson came to the Aiken Mall on Saturday because she needed a new pair of shoes for a performance.
But where would she have gone if the entity that has been a fixture on the local landscape for more than two decades was shuttered? The Aiken Mall’s closing may not become a reality, but one thing is for certain, a 35-acre parcel of the retail complex has been foreclosed on, according to Aiken County Clerk of Court records.
A number of consumers, some who visit the mall on a fairly routine basis, weren’t aware of Friday’s announcement that Aiken Mall Acquisition LLC, which owns the property at the Aiken Mall, has been foreclosed upon and owes approximately $28.5 million to U.S. Bank.
However, the increasing number of vacancies during the past few years has been noticeable, but for many, the commercial retail complex has been a way of life.
Representatives with Aiken Mall’s anchor stores refused to comment on the situation when contacted by the Aiken Standard Saturday.
The Aiken Mall’s convenient location has made it popular with consumers, who patronize the retail outlets based in the complex.
“I attend USC Aiken, and I go to the mall when I need something,” said Amber Pate, who did some shopping on Saturday afternoon. “I didn’t know the mall’s property had been foreclosed on, that is until now.”
A trip to the Aiken Mall has been a monthly sojourn for LaWanda Jackson. Part of the establishment’s attraction, are the anchor stores, Belk, Dillard’s, JCPenney, Sears and Books-A-Million, she said.
Jackson found out about the foreclosure while shopping in one of the stores.
“I had just heard about it from a little old lady while I was shopping in Belk,” said Jackson.
However, the consumer’s interest and questions were far greater, should the Aiken Mall shutter, and the implications it could have on the local economy, not just how it could affect consumers.
“I’m concerned about the people who work at the mall,” said Jackson. “It would be sad if the mall were to close down.”
The image of the vacancies in the Aiken Mall were evocative of a similar situation, one that affected a mall in South Augusta, said Lisa Nelson, who came to the Aiken Mall to buy her daughter shoes.
“I hadn’t heard that the mall property had been foreclosed on,” said Nelson.
A stop by the mall has been a monthly ritual for Frankie Creech and his wife, who got something to eat, while they were shopping on Saturday.
“She always likes to stop by Belk,” said Creech.
• Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004. Among the awards Baugh has won include the 2003 Raleigh Burroughs Award as the turf writer making the most impact on the Florida Thoroughbred Industry. Baugh is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, worked for North America’s leading Thoroughbred breeder Adena Springs in Ocala, Fla.