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News Link • Business/ Commerce

Rural malls hit hard times, leaving shoppers adrift as more stores close

• https://www.usatoday.com, Donnelle Eller

So is Kmart, MC Sports, JCPenney, Vanity and soon Herberger's, a department store.

"The mall is pretty sad," says Amanda Cain, a teacher and mother. "Once Herberger's closes, we'll have no anchors."

About two-thirds of Ottumwa's Quincy Place Mall will be empty with Herberger's loss. 

Bon-Ton Stores, of which Herberger's was a part; Toys R Us; MC Sports and others are bankrupt. JCPenney, Kmart and other department stores are closing unprofitable stores in their struggle to survive against growing online competition.

National retail distress is emptying rural regional malls, experts say. But long-term economic deterioration is driving their inability to bounce back: Fewer jobs and fewer people mean less money spent on TVs, couches and clothes.

Ottumwa and most other small Iowa cities have failed to recover the jobs lost in the recession, said David Swenson, an Iowa State University economist.

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