Dwindling business, extensive road construction and the loss of Five Points Mall's largest tenant has not chilled the enthusiasm of most mall store owners.
"We've done well, a lot better than we thought we would," said Abby Reese, owner of the recently opened Kids Safe.Reese chose the mall specifically for its advantages, which she said outweigh its disadvantages. Benefits include a lower lease rate than major malls, easy access and convenient parking for shoppers, and the good lighting for the young mothers who shop at her store.
When she moved in, she was well aware of some of the pitfalls confronting Five Points, the largest of which is the lack of an anchor store like ZCMI, Mervyn's or Nordstrom. Also, she knew that Food 4 Less, which occupied the most space at the mall, planned to relocate to Rose Park.
For many store owners, the lack of a major store to attract window shoppers would cause hesitation. When coupled with the extensive, and now delayed, rebuilding of Main Street, the prospects might look downright scary.
Not for entrepreneurs like Reese, however.
"Bountiful has a pickier clientele," she said, noting that stores like Food 4 Less and other large, discount retailers appeal to lower incomes than those of most Bountiful residents. Many of the stores in Five Points are speciality stores, and customers come specifically for one store.
Regardless of attitudes, revenue at the mall has dropped in the past year, a problem that some have attributed to a lack of commitment by mall owners.
"It has suffered from a lack of significant amounts of reinvestment," said Tom Hardy, Bountiful city manager. "That's the sort of thing that needs to be done."
One thing that doesn't concern Hardy is the loss of Food 4 Less. Most of the south Davis grocery stores are located in Bountiful, and residents will simply shift their grocery money to one of the other outlets.
Any revenue loss that owners blame on the construction does not have very solid backing, despite the delays, Hardy said.
"They would obviously like that intersection open," he said. "But it's not like it's cut off. There are accesses every place you would want to get into the mall."
Not that the city is cold-hearted, or ignoring the mall tenants.
"I'm sympathetic, and want it open," he said. The problem, however, is that the contractor's original road did not meet specifications, and the city told them to rebuild it.
Comments disparaging the mall don't fly with the mall's general manager, Larry Wickham. Although there is some empty space in the mall, the currently operating stores continue to do strong business, he said. Also, he pointed to the three new stores that have opened in the past six months as a sign that things are picking up.
Additionally, he said, negotiations are currently under way with a number of large, national retail chains to move into the Food 4 Less space.
"I have several significant retailers interested," Wickham said, although he didn't disclose any names because no contracts have been signed.
Some businesses have complained about the construction, he said.
"A few have said that it is an impact, but how much of an impact is hard to judge," he said.