When iconic American retailer Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2018 and began closing stores across the country, many shopping malls were left with a tough question.
What other business could occupy the massive space that Sears left behind? Especially in an age when many people prefer to do their shopping online.
In Springfield, the Sears store at Battlefield Mall has been closed for two years, and the space has yet to be filled by a new tenant.
The News-Leader reached out to mall management recently for an update on the progress filling the space, but didn’t get much back.
In response to questions about the size of the space, potential new businesses that could move in and whether the mall is considering splitting the space among more than one tenant, mall spokesperson Amanda Estes said simply, “At this time there is no new information on Sears.”
The News-Leader also reached out to St. Louis-based Location CRE, which is involved with the old Sears property. Bill Siems, a broker with Location CRE, declined to talk about specifics but confirmed several businesses have expressed interest in the space.
More:Ice cream, ‘selfie studio’ coming to Springfield’s Battlefield Mall
Looking at other cities where Sears moved out could provide some clues for the future of the large retail space at the Battlefield Mall.
A 2018 article from Business Insider identified six companies that had replaced former Sears stores in other American cities — Planet Fitness, AMC Theatres, Burlington, Mariano’s (a grocery store), Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
In Jensen Beach, Florida, plans were recently announced to replace a former Sears store with Elev8 Fun, an indoor amusement center that includes go-karts, arcade games, laser tag and bowling.
In other cities, shuttered Sears stores have been torn down to make way for apartments or other development.
Despite the rise of e-commerce, especially during the pandemic, Springfield’s Battlefield Mall has remained a popular shopping destination in the community.
In the past year, the Battlefield Mall has welcomed a nail spa, selfie studio, ice cream parlor, tattoo shop and several clothing stores. It also houses popular national brands like Dillard’s, Macy’s, JCPenney and H&M.
Outside of the mall, the Springfield area has seen several large companies like Amazon and Costco set up shop, so it might be only a matter of time before a new company decides to fill the old Sears space.
More:You want ’em, we called ’em. What Trader Joe’s, Shake Shack, others said about Springfield