Former J.C. Penney location

J.C. Penney left Mount Vernon in May 2018. The storefront at 1530 Coshocton Ave. has been vacant ever since.

MOUNT VERNON – A national retail chain will soon occupy the former J.C. Penney location at 1530 Coshocton Ave.

Burkes Outlet signed in mid-December to become an anchor tenant in the Knox Village Square shopping center, Regency Properties Marketing Director Jessica Wildeman told Knox Pages Friday. It will fill the 22,542-square-foot space where J.C. Penney used to stand.

Burkes Outlet sells clothing, accessories, beauty products and home decor. According to its website, the company originated in the south and now serves communities in 13 states, from Nevada to Virginia. There are currently 16 stores in Kentucky and four in West Virginia, but none listed in Ohio. The Mount Vernon location would presumably be among the first.

“The mission of Burkes Outlet is to give savvy shoppers great prices on the latest trends in women’s clothing, kids’ and men’s clothing, shoes and handbags, as well as new styles in accessories, and home and beauty,” the company’s website says.

Burkes Outlet won’t be the only anchor tenant moving into Knox Village Square soon. Wildeman confirmed Friday that Big Lots will eventually fill the former Pat Catan’s location on the east end of the shopping center.

“I believe that Burkes Outlet and Big Lots will both be a wonderful addition to the community,” Wildeman said in an email. “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get where we are today, but we are excited about the opportunity in this shopping center.”

Wildeman did not know when Burkes Outlet plans to open, or how many people the store will employ. Burkes Outlet representatives could not be reached for comment late Friday.

Wildeman did note in a previous interview that retail stores tend to open around back-to-school season or the holidays, as their products are in high-demand during those times. The shopping center's next tenant will need time to renovate the property, stock inventory and train staff, she added.

J.C. Penney closed its Mount Vernon location in May 2018, putting 25 employees out of work. It was one of eight J.C. Penney stores to close across the country that spring, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Regency Properties, based in Evansville, IN, owns and manages retail shopping centers in mid-sized cities across the country. The company “specializes in county seat communities,” according to its website. When considering tenants for shopping centers like Knox Village Square, Wildeman said many factors are considered.

“When a tenant moves out we reach out to tenants that we think would benefit the market. We do extensive market research to figure out which tenants would be a success in the county seat community. Then we reach out to the tenant,” Wildeman said.

“We pride ourselves on our relationships with our tenants. When an opportunity opens up we reach out to them and have a conversation about the opportunities.”

Regency Properties specializes in “necessity-based shopping,” Wildeman said, so that residents in mid-sized communities don’t have to drive out of town to shop for essential goods.

“We want to support that small community, so they don’t have to drive to the next town,” Wildeman said, “so that you guys keep the businesses there local and the money that’s coming into your town stays in your town.”

Burkes Outlet and Big Lots will soon join Gordmans as anchor tenants at Knox Village Square. Rural King was formerly a Knox Village Square anchor tenant, but the company decided to buy its end of the shopping center for $1.65 million in December. It is now considered a separate property, although it is still attached to the rest of the mall.

Regency Properties has owned Knox Village Square since 2017, when it bought the shopping center for $4 million.

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Staff Reporter

Grant is a 2018 graduate of Ohio Northern University, where he studied journalism and played basketball. He likes coffee, books and minor league baseball. He loves telling stories and has a passion for local news.