JCPenney at Concord Mall closing in spring

Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 6:31 PM EST
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - JCPenney shared that it will close its location in Concord Mall this year.

In 1976, JCPenney opened at Concord Mall, back when the mall was a bustling shopping center and hang-out spot.

“When I was a kid, we used to come here all the time, when the fountain was still going, and it was really a popular place at that time,” said Leon Askew, a maintenance and housekeeper for Concord Mall.

However, in the early 2000s, the mall saw a huge decline, which caused it to empty out, and instead of being full of customers, it’s full of vacant storefronts.

“JCPenney has kind of always been one of those places that has always helped to bring people to that area, even if they weren’t going to the mall, they were going to JC Penney,” said Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce President, Levon Johnson.

According to Johnson, Concord Mall has changed ownership five times in the last few years, and while new owners have been trying to revive the mall, Johnson told 16 News Now that breakdown negotiations of the lease price are to blame for the close.

“Little bit of a surprise, you know they’ve recently invested, in the last 6 months a great deal of money in the renovation and lighting in the store,” Johnson said.

Employees of the Concord Mall JCPenney said the announcement came as a surprise to them as well and told 16 News Now that the store closed in 2020 for a few months but reopened.

However, that has not seemed to be the case this time.

In a statement shared with 16 News Now by JCPenney’s Media Relations, they stated that, “Our JCPenney store at the Concord Mall will be closing its doors. The liquidation process will begin this February, with the store closing by May of this year. The decision to close a store is never an easy one. We are grateful to our dedicated associates and the loyal customers who have shopped at our Elkhart, Indiana location.”

In reaction to news of the store closing, employees of Concord Mall said, they just hope that the mall can be saved.

“Hopefully they bring something else in there, see because JC Penney and Hobby Lobby are the two biggest places here,” said Debra Kuntz, a security person and housekeeper for the mall.

According to the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce President, and JCPenney of Concord Mall, employees will be able to relocate to stores like the Mishawaka location.

And while employees of JCPenney will be covered, the future of Concord Mall is still in question.