GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Singing River Mall seems to be a mall that's in trouble. Even during the busy shopping season, there are plenty of empty parking spaces outside, and several empty retail spaces inside. Longtime business Sound Shop recently closed, and Waldenbooks is shutting down next month.
Tommy Fortenberry isn't a business owner. But as mayor of Gautier, he's committed to seeing the mall rebound.
"We'll do whatever it takes," Fortenberry said. "And we've discussed this some as a city, as far as what the city could do to bring business to the mall."
WLOX News spoke with mall management about doing a story on the future of the mall, and what their plans were. But they did not want to do it unless we submitted written questions in advance for their approval. And that's something we could not agree to.
But we did talk to people who go to the mall, and they have some suggestions as to what will make the mall more appealing, and bring in more customers.
"We need more big department stores there.," shopper Betty Wolverton said. "I know we have Penny's and Sears and we have Belk, but we need more stores to shop at from a finer line of ladies clothing."
That sentiment was echoed by shopper Nancy Thawley.
"Some clothing stores for just the women, because mostly it's the women who mostly go shopping," Thawley said.
Lex Aldewereld and his wife are visiting the coast from Orange Beach, Alabama. He is a shopping center developer, and has some advice to bring in more traffic.
"I would recommend they try and keep J.C. Penny's, that's a big draw," Aldewereld suggested. "I would try an outlet mall discount store in there. That would be a big draw."
No matter what the secret to success may be, the mayor and people who live in Jackson County hope that secret is discovered soon.