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Madison alder: Big box store closures prompt need for solutions

MADISON (WKOW) — There seems to be a chain reaction of big box store closures around Madison with the latest closure being Shopko. Now, a city alder whose district has been directly impacted by multiple closures is calling on city leaders to form solutions.

“We’re trying to come to grips with this. We’ve been seeing it happen and as we see one store close, another, and another, there’s a trend here,” said Madison Alder Paul Skidmore, who represents District Nine.

He’s seen a fair share of big box stores closing in his district within the last year.

“I think it’s bigger than what people really understand,” said Skidmore.

Within the last year Sears at West Towne Mall shut down. Around the corner, sits an empty parking lot in front of a vacant former Boston Store building. The nearby Toys-R-Us is also shuttered.

“The larger malls are struggling because they’re losing their anchors,” said Skidmore. “A lot of people are buying online. People used to go to the Sears, to the Shopko, to stores like that.”

The closures mean retail employees are losing their jobs and some spaces are becoming eyesores as buildings sit idle and remain vacant. Skidmore added that cities are also losing property tax revenue.

“It’s a big negative. So, we have to cut back. I mean, we can’t keep spending as if everything is fine,” said Skidmore.

Although he is urging city leaders to start creating a plan to tackle issues like big closures, Skidmore argues the city might just have to embrace the rapid change.

“We have to look at this as a change and an opportunity. How are we going to adapt to this?” he asked.

Skidmore said the city is looking at prosperous business models like at Hilldale’s outdoor mall. City leaders are also trying to turn vacant properties into other sustainable buildings before more fall into the chain reaction.

Hunter Sáenz

Reporter, WKOW

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