CHICO, Calif. - Representatives with the Chico Mall announced that it will be adding a Planet Fitness, and there will be more announcements in the coming months.
Mall-goers and business owners shared their opinions about the direction of the Chico Mall.
“It’s depressing, it’s empty, it’s just a lot of the shops there’s not, there’s nobody in here anymore,” said Ron Ausmus, a Butte County resident.
Mall staff said nationally, malls are in a transitional state.
“Landlords are taking advantage of repurposing the mall's to focus a little bit more on food and beverage and entertainment," said Natasha Shelton, general manager of the Chico Mall. "There’s been a lot of research out there to show that customers stay a lot longer when they have a lot more dining options and that really provides a lot more ancillary support to the soft good inline tenants.”
Two business owners who relocated after the Camp Fire said they think the change is necessary.
“With Amazon changing the way people buy now, you are seeing a lot of stores falling by the wayside and not making many sales and stuff," said Andrew Osterlund, owner of American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. "So it's really cool they are revamping the mall to have people use it in this fashion, to use it as a workout center, a meeting place, food, things like that, I think it's cool to see it changing.”
Others reflected on how the retail landscape has changed over the years.
“I think a choice has to be made because the retail environment has changed so much over the years," said Dovie Deetches, owner if Dove's Gypsy Heart Boutique. "I think it is a good thing, I would encourage it. I think it's great. Why not?"
People in the mall also had some input on how the mall is evolving.
“I am kind of excited that Chico is taking a turn toward the healthier living and I think that the mall is kind of the center around that," said Sarah Goodell. "We have the people who come and walk the mall, but we are kind of bringing in the younger crowd now with the Planet Fitness, with the Jiu-Jitsu. With all the healthier living, hopefully, they will bring in healthier food choices. We will see."
Some want to see changes from stores that have been there for many years.
“It’s basically been the same for like years," said Logan Petkus. "JC Penny, Forever 21, I know those are staying. Those are great stores. But really, there hasn’t been much change for the past like 15 years and it’s just great to see it’s finally going to get revamped and get a lot nicer.”
One man said that the gym will bring much-needed traffic to the mall.
“There are quite a few gyms around here already," Ausmus said. "I go to In Motion and there are other ones around here, but that’s fantastic to get people in here that’s what they need. They need traffic. I don’t know how these stores stay open. I don’t know how much the cost of the rent is for these places. But face it, there’s hardly anyone in the stores right now.”