Sears to be replaced by Round1, an entertainment venue

Updated: May. 7, 2018 at 8:11 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - By July, Sears at Park Place mall will shutter its doors after a two-month long liquidation sale, marking an end to a half century run in the same location.

The closing was inevitable as Sears has been suffering loss of market share for years, but it also represents another epidemic sweeping the retail industry.

The era of the big, multi-store shopping malls shaped by the demands of the Baby Boomers, is showing signs of wear.

While malls will not likely disappear, they will likely look different in the coming years. Read more about the death of malls HERE.

"We have way too much retail space," said Scott Hessell, the Director of the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing at the University of Arizona.  "It's going to shrink."

What replaces that space is still up in the air, but many mall owners are experimenting with different options.

The Park Place mall owners are talking with a Japanese Company called Round1, which bills itself as a bowling and entertainment center.

It has opened 21 of them in the US -- the company started in Japan in 1980 -- and Round1 said it hopes to add 12 to 15 more a year.

Tucson's will open, we are told by company officials, in 2019.

Daniel Eduardo, a 22-year-old economics student at the UA, said malls need to change to fit the customer base.

"When we go to the mall, we are not only looking to shop," he said. "We're looking for an entertainment option."

He moved to Arizona five years ago from Mexico to "show what we can contribute."

"It's really important to realize the customer is looking for entertainment more than just the shopping exposure," he said.

The Baby Boomers who shaped the mall experience in the 1950s and 60s are not the force they once were. That fact, along with technology, are shaping the future of the mall experience.

"I don't need to go to the mall to buy product," Hessell said. "I've got the mall on my phone or on my laptop."

Mall operators will need to change what they do and how they do it if they want to survive.

Hessell said the owners who do that will likely succeed but those who want to retain the old hands-on feel likely will not.

"In the meantime, there's going to be a lot of pain in figuring out what that looks like," he said. "That transition won't be an easy transition."

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