BUTTE – The loss of more stores in the Butte Plaza Mall has some of the current store owners in the mall concerned about losing customers.
“And if they feel if there’s nothing to come to here, if they’re looking for things they’d go to Herberger’s for, if they don’t come to Butte and go a different direction, it’s going to have a big impact on all the businesses in town,” said Rhonda Lee, co-owner of Keenan’s Jeweler.
Economic leaders such as the Butte Local Development Corporation, or BLDC, are working on ways to attract more business to the Mining City. Butte’s low population has caused some major retailers to leave in recent years, but officials believe this area can attract and sustain more business.
“Thirty-five thousand people is a substantial amount and if you look at our trade region, the seven counties that Headwaters serves, it’s right around 85,000 people so there’s no shortage of folks around to come to town,” said BLDC Executive Director Joe Willauer.
Butte is considering hiring the Buxton Co. for the next three years to help the city try to recruit national retailers to Butte through customer profiles.
“They combine the customer needs with the business needs and give you a list of businesses that fit your community. At that point, it’s up to us to go capitalize on them, which is what we’re here for, so we’re excited about it,” said Willauer.
The mall has lost several businesses and will be losing Payless Shoes soon.
“There are still a number of good businesses in the mall. Granted, it’s getting pretty lonely in here, but there are still a number of good businesses and they’ve got great inventory,” said Lee.
And with the holiday season coming fast upon us, local businesses say it’s important for people to try and stay in town to do their holiday shopping.
“There’s some great boutiques, there’s wonderful shopping, there’s excellent service, people that will work with you to help you find what you want, and people just have to realize that there are still things here and if we’re going to keep them here, we’ve got to support them,” said Lee.
The BLDC plans to hold a Shop Locally event the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to start their holiday shopping in Butte.
Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News