The Acadiana Mall is losing three more stores.
GAP, GAP Kids and Banana Republic are set to close in January.
This afternoon, Annie Lee with Gap Incorporated released a statement saying, “We always evaluate our store fleet to ensure we have the right stores in the right locations to best serve our customers’ needs. Yes, I can confirm the Gap store in this location will close on January 28 and the Banana Republic store on January 26. The decision to close a store is always a difficult one and hope our customers will continue to shop with us at nearby stores or online.”
While some might believe the mall is at the end of an era, mall officials say it’s not all doom and gloom. With several chain stores closing, new opportunities are being presented to local businesses and those stores are thriving.
“When I found this location, I was like, it is such a perfect location. We would be crazy to pass up the opportunity,” said Theresa Richard, owner of Bain Amour Bath and Body Company.
Her store has been open a year-and-a-half in the old Gordon’s Jewelry Store in the Acadiana Mall.
“In a stand alone store, we would never get this kind of foot traffic,” said Richard. “We have so many new customers and people passing by who never knew we were here. People try our stuff, love it and keep coming back in.”
Since opening the mall, Richard has hired more employees and her business is steadily growing.
Other local stores like Watch Me Grow Up Boutique are also thriving while some chains are struggling at the mall.
“In this location, we have doubled our numbers,” said Chauntel Broussard.
According to the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, the Acadiana Mall brings in nearly $130 million in sales and has a total economic impact of $198.3 million.
Shoppers we spoke with say, it’s always disappointing when any business decides to close in Acadiana.
“I think it’s really sad when any brand closes the lower end opportunities for customers,” said Lance Bordelon. “For instance when you have a Banana Republic and then you have a Gap that is a little more affordable.”
Cindy Leblanc said, “I like to shop and come to the stores. I can see if it fits better.”
Business owners believe the mall needs diversity in order to keep attracting shoppers.
“We can be in here with the major chain stores,” said Richard. “A lot of people say you have Bath and Body Works down the way from you, but it’s like apples to oranges. There’s room for all of us here in the market place.”
Richard also hinted there could be other stores opening in the mall.
“I know there are some really great things on the horizon for the Acadiana Mall and I’m just happy we’re here to be part of it.”