One of the longest running tenants in Big Creek Crossing has announced it is closed for good in Hays.
Claire’s, a jewelry and accessories retailer for young girls and women, has been closed since April 17. On Monday, around 4 p.m., store manager Shannon Christen received a call from her district manager that corporate headquarters has decided to close the store in the mall and will not relocate to another location in Hays.
The store, along with a handful of others, has been closed since April 17 when an air conditioning unit on top of the mall collapsed through the top ceiling in the early morning hours and severed a water line. The ceiling above Payless Shoe Store collapsed, and water flooded through the mall.
Claire’s was one of the stores sustaining the most damage. The corporate decision to close, Christen said, wasn’t made solely on the incident that has kept the store out of operation for more than two weeks.
“There were a lot of different components to it,” Christen said. “I think that this was just kind of the last straw — the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“As we all know, the traffic around here has slowed down quite a bit. The economy is bad. That has a lot to do with it. Oil is down. It’s all of it. This is a farming community.”
Claire’s has been a part of the Hays mall for more than 40 years. It has had just two managers, Christen for eight years, and Pat Fox, who was the manager for 36 years. The store will not do a closing-out sale as it will need to have everything out of the store space by May 11.
Christen said it has been somewhat emotional since receiving the news.
“The sad part of it is there’s not going to be a place for little girls to go,” she said. “We’ve pierced anywhere between 75 to 100 girls a month in this store. We’ve seen the little girls grow up in the store — even siblings. I’ve had a mom that came in, and I’ve pierced all three of her daughters’ ears. It’s been an honor to have that experience.”
Christen said they have been able to pay the five employees since the store has not been operational to the public. They also will get severance packages from Claire’s.