COLUMBUS, Ind. — Columbus’ JCPenney store is closing, one of 138 nationwide being shuttered as the company downsizes to increase company growth and long-term profitability.

About 25 people are employed at the Columbus store, which opened toward the end of 1989 and was one of three anchor stores in FairOaks Mall. The 25 local employees are among an estimated 5,000 losing their jobs with the closings nationwide, the company said.

The announcement comes just a few weeks after FairOaks learned that it was also losing the Kirlin Hallmark store in April, a store that had been a mainstay in the mall since its earliest days.

Three years ago, FairOaks had about 20 of its 55 storefronts operating — and the count is about the same now. The mall has been hosting a winter farmer’s market in the concourse area on Saturdays to generate more foot traffic into the facility.

JCPenney said the stores on the closing list, including Columbus, will begin the liquidation process on April 17 with an official closing likely in June.

Mall officials are optimistic that the same strategy they used when Dunham Sports took over Kmart’s retail location will work again to fill the JCPenney space with another anchor store.

“The JCPenney’s space is a prime location,” said Kim Eckrote-Showalter, mall manager. “We have three or four possible tenants on our radar for the space.”

Look for more details in Saturday’s print edition of The Republic.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at or (812) 379-5631.