Wednesday, January 13, 2010
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Disney store at mall to draw to a close

The outlet in Valley View Mall will close this month as part of a companywide restructuring plan.

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Some Walt Disney Co. stores are poised for a five-year redesign, though not all have the same happy ending.

The Disney Store in Roanoke and some others nationally will close as a result of Walt Disney's restructuring plans.

The store stocked with Mickey Mouse stuffed animals, Disney-themed children's clothing and toys and located on Valley View Mall's lower level will shut its doors for good Jan. 24. The store is having a 40 percent off clearance sale to move merchandise.

Shawn Turner, a spokeswoman for Disney, would not discuss specifically why the Roanoke store was selected for closure, and she declined to state how many other stores would close nationally.

Disney said last week that it will open an interactive store in New York City's Times Square, and it plans to give its other stores a similar revamped look in the next five years.

Because of these changes, the company will not renew leases at some stores nationwide, according to an e-mailed statement.

"As we strategically balance our retail portfolio and prepare to launch newly designed Disney Stores across the U.S. and Europe, we continue to consider opportunities to maximize the distribution of our current store locations and strengthen our position in today's retail environment," according to the statement.

Disney described this move as "one step in our long-term plan for future growth."

The California-based company has 231 Disney Stores and outlets in North America, according to its fiscal 2009 annual report. Sales in Disney's consumer products segment dropped 12 percent to $646 million during the fourth quarter of 2009, compared with the prior year, according to the company's quarterly report.

Valley View's Disney Store opened in 1996, one of a group of national chains to land at the Roanoke shopping center that opened in 1985, said Louise Dudley, manager of Valley View.

In light of Disney's departure, Dudley said she's focused on attracting more family-oriented businesses to Valley View. Crazy 8, a children's clothing chain owned by the Gymboree Corp., is making plans to open at Valley View, according to a city building permit for renovation work.

Still, the Disney space won't be vacant for long. Rue21, a trendy women's and men's apparel chain, will move into the Disney spot, though Dudley said Tuesday that she did not yet know its opening date.

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