Feb 3, 2009

River Ridge Mall feels the economic pinch, yet expands

by Anthony Barone, News Reporter

 Regardless of the current economy or the uncertainty of the future, one principle still applies in our society: “Out with the old and in with the new.”

With 2009 underway, Lynchburg’s River Ridge Mall is feeling the effects of the recession, but in every hurdle management has found opportunity.

Last week, the Gap, a globally recognizable clothing company, closed its doors in the mall.
With the Gap gone, Forever 21 is headed to River Ridge.

“Gap was more like a business type store, Forever 21 is more of a teen store,” junior Joanna Jensen said.

Currently, a Forever 21 fan needs to travel to Roanoke for the brand, although the store technically has a presence in the mall with its sister store, Gadzooks.

Despite low prices and rumors from students, the clothing retailer Pacific Sunwear is not going out of business. The retailer is a discounted store with less selection than other stores but has better prices, according to a Pac Sun employee.

However, in addition to the Gap, several smaller stores are closing or already gone, including Whitehall Jewelers, B. Moss and Value City.
In their place, Regal Cinemas plans to open their new theater this October.

“I think the Regal will be a big draw, and help us with our leases … we’re excited for 2009,” said General Manager of the mall Louise Dudley in an interview with the Lynchburg News & Advance.

The new theater will display films in 14 surround sound, stadium-seating atriums.

The business will be the fourth and the largest movie theater in Lynchburg, topping the current Carmike 8 Cinema downtown.

“I think it would (be) a good addition for the community and for the mall,” Jensen said.

A new restaurant will also appear in the mall this spring.
Charmein’s, the newest eatery, advertises “fresh home cooked soul food.”

The menu will include a variety of foods such as fried chicken, pork chops, fish, shrimp, green beans, corn bread and other southern style cuisine.

The facility will join the several already existing restaurants and will fill the location previously held by McDonalds.

“The Mall has pizza (and) Chinese,” sophomore Dominique Smalls said. “It’d be good to get some country.”

With the recession and loss of jobs, projects including the new Crossroads Colonnade Shopping Mall, planned to be next to Liberty, have been put on hold until 2010, at the earliest.

The River Ridge Mall is located between Liberty’s North Campus and Wards Road with access from Candlers Mountain and Wards Road.

Bus routes to the mall can be found under transit services on the Liberty Web site.

For additional information about the mall, go to shopriverridgemall.com.

Contact Anthony Barone at

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