BUTTE – Losing a major retail store at the Butte Plaza Mall knocks the wind out of Butte’s economy.
“It was a total gut punch, yeah,” said Butte Plaza Mall Manager Alana Ferko.
The Herberger’s in the Butte mall is one of 250 going out of business around the country. Butte also recently lost its Kmart, leaving few major retail stores in the Mining City.
“Big box retail is different nowadays. They do go into bigger populated areas. Butte has been steady, but we’re not growing,” Ferko said.
Joe Willauer of the Butte Local Development Corporation added, “We’re not the only place experiencing this trend. Malls across the country are losing their anchor tenants, losing businesses. As internet shopping takes over it’s just kind of the way things are going.”
City leaders are not willing to accept this fate in Butte without a fight.
“We are actively working with our friends over at the city as well as the Chamber to pursue a new avenue for a large retail store like a Herberger’s or another department store. It’s clearly a need our community has,” said Willauer.
Ferko believes stores can be lured to the mall.
“I believe they can be filled, and there’s lots of good people working harder and smart than I know how to do. I do know that people committed to making some good things happen,” Ferko said.
And while Butte has lost several major department stores in recent years, officials remind people that they can still shop at small businesses all around Butte.
“We have a lot of good local shopping options, there’s a lot of good places to go buy clothes and shoes from, local people from your friends and neighbors,” according to Willauer.
Still, the city needs a major anchor to hold the economy in place.