Find the latest episode of "The Uncertain Hour" here. Listen

A Montana mall faces back-to-school shopping … without department stores

Kai Ryssdal and Andie Corban Jul 23, 2019
HTML EMBED:
COPY
The interior of a mall in Mount Prospect, Illinois. Tim Boyle/Getty Images

A Montana mall faces back-to-school shopping … without department stores

Kai Ryssdal and Andie Corban Jul 23, 2019
The interior of a mall in Mount Prospect, Illinois. Tim Boyle/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Back-to-school season is just around the corner, and new data from the National Retail Federation suggests that shoppers will spend more money on school supplies and clothing than they did last year.

To hear more about how things are going in the retail business, we called Alana Ferko, manager of the Butte Plaza Mall in Montana.

In the past few years, the mall has lost its two department stores, J.C. Penney and Herberger’s, as part of a retail slump that hit malls across the country. But last week a new, non-traditional business opened up in J.C. Penney’s former space: a call center.

“Things are brighter,” said Ferko. “It’s just a great atmosphere. They’ve got over one hundred employees on site.”

Despite the call center, Ferko is nervous about upcoming sales. It will be Butte Plaza Mall’s first back-to-school shopping season without a department store.

“We’re already feeling it,” she said.

Click the audio player above to hear the interview.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.