A new women’s clothing store has set up shop in the FairOaks Mall.
The development is in contrast to dozens of vacant storefronts and a recent announcement that one of the mall’s three anchor department stores, Kmart, will vacate near the end of April.
J. Nicole is a locally owned stand-alone store that specializes in women’s clothes. It generally offers sizes from extra small to 3XL with prices usually ranging from $29 to $69.
Owner Cheryl Stuck said despite the perception that the mall is losing customer traffic she feels that Columbus is a growing city with a good customer base for her business.
“We shouldn’t be losing stores. We should be getting stores,” Stuck said. “I’ve talked to so many women that tell me (they) have to go to Indianapolis to find anything.
“Why should they spend $20 on gas when they can find fashion right here in town if they go to the mall?” she said.
J. Nicole offers casual and formal styles for women looking to showcase their figures and personality, Stuck said.
The new fashion store fills in the vacancy where Christopher & Banks had been based.
Christopher & Banks, which announced in late January its plans to vacate, has closed more than 100 stores across the country since 2011.
Although Stuck’s store is surrounded by dark and empty spots in the mall, she does not think closing of stores such as Petals and Vines and Kmart bodes poorly for Fair Oaks Mall’s future.
“Kmart is closing a lot of stores, so it’s not a Columbus thing,” she said. “(Petals and Vines) next door is leaving because she’s retiring.”
Stuck also owns and operates adult lingerie business Nite Life Boutique, which opened in 2010 in Columbus. Before that, she owned and operated a lingerie store in River Falls Mall in Clarksville.
Opening a store with women’s clothing that is fashionable and comfortable fulfills a dream for Stuck and gives her the chance to try something new.
“I hope people will welcome us,” Stuck said. “If we can’t make it, no other stores are going to come in,” she said.
The store has been open for more than a week and has almost hired a full staff. Stuck said she hopes to open more J. Nicole stores in the future.
Fair Oaks Mall Acquisition, which owned FairOaks Mall on 25th Street, went through a foreclosure lawsuit seeking to settle an unpaid $21.2 million mortgage debt. A new owner, Fair Oaks Mall Acquisition LLC, based in Howell, N.J., last fall took over ownership of the mall, which opened in 1990.