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1/13/2019 4:46:00 PM
'NATURE OF THE BUSINESS:' As big box stores close, new options can emerge
The sign and cowboy statue is shown at Town & Country Shopping Center. The plaza in Mishawaka has traditionally had high occupancy rates, but will soon need to replace Big Lots, which is moving down the street the old K-Mart building. Staff photo by Michael Caterina
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The sign and cowboy statue is shown at Town & Country Shopping Center. The plaza in Mishawaka has traditionally had high occupancy rates, but will soon need to replace Big Lots, which is moving down the street the old K-Mart building. Staff photo by Michael Caterina

Mary Shown, South Bend Tribune

MISHAWAKA — Six months after Toys R Us locked its doors in light of declaring bankruptcy, the shadow of the once-leading toy retailer in the nation still looms over the Grape Road corridor.

The company’s bright, iconic sign has been removed. Its expansive parking lot just south of the Indiana Toll Road, was empty during the Christmas shopping season and now beyond.

And the future of the 47,000-square-foot building on an acre-and-a-half of prime real estate at 6011 Grape Road, remains unclear with retail trending more toward online sales and away from brick and mortar options.

It’s not a unique situation as many large and visible buildings in the area and around the country have been rendered vacant as retailers adjust to a changing marketplace. The result is landlords, brokers and property managers are forced to find new ways to care for, market and re-purpose these larger properties.

When Barnes and Noble announced it would be relocating from 4609 Grape Road to the University Park Mall in 2009, property owner Tony Rucano didn’t panic. Instead, the realtor by trade simply saw it just as any other business move.

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