Macy's closing: Anchor disappears

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The Macy's corporate office announced this morning that it will close its Missoula outlet on March 10. Not only is this bad news for local shoppers and the store's 55 employees, but it comes as a considerable setback for Missoula's Downtown Master Plan.

George Crandall, principal of Crandall Arambula, the consulting firm behind the plan, says his office got wind of the closure mid-morning and immediately recognized the problem it raises for Missoula's downtown businesses. Macy's served as what the firm calls an "anchor" for the master plan, and the importance of a department store in drawing business to a district should never be underestimated, he says.

"If you lose an attractor or, as we say, an anchor in the downtown, it means less business for your other downtown retail businesses," Crandall told the Independent. "It’s always a loss to a downtown if you lose a department store.”

There are alternatives as far as Crandall Arambula is concerned. While Missoula lacks an existing downtown anchor candidate to fill the void left by Macy's, the city could find another department store to occupy that valuable corner storefront.

“Any good master plan has flexibility," Crandall says. "And I think that your master plan has flexibility built into it. I think adjustments can be made, but [the closure] certainly is a setback at this point."

More on the closing in this week's printed edition.

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