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John's Hallmark Shop at Valley Mall to close

Shop's owner says poor economy and an amendment to lease were factors in decision

February 16, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com

John's Hallmark Shop at Valley Mall near Hagerstown will close its doors at the end of this month after 25 years of business.

The shop's owner, John Slocum, said the poor economy was one of the reasons he had to close.

"I only have about 10 to 12 days to go here," Slocum said. "After 25 years, it looks like it's all coming to an end .... It's going to affect seven or eight people jobwise."

The Hallmark Shop is the third at Valley Mall that has closed or is slated to close this year, Valley Mall spokeswoman Michele Wills said.

Lane Bryant, a plus-size clothing store for women, and f.y.e., an entertainment store that sells games, CDs and DVDs, closed in January. Fashion Bug also will close, but Wills said she didn't know when.

"I'm not sure when they'll go," Wills said of Fashion Bug.

"It's the leasing department's goal to fill the spots," she said. "They're working on potential deals."

Wills said a Best Buy Mobile store is to open at the mall in March.

Best Buy did not return a telephone call on Wednesday to determine how many people that store would employ.

Best Buy Mobile stores specialize in mobile phone sales.

Slocum said he hasn't been able to find an affordable space in which to reopen.

"I'm not sure where I'll go," he said.

John's Hallmark Shop began slashing prices to clear inventory, Slocum said. On Wednesday, he started to advertise 70 percent savings across the board.

The closing will leave Slocum with a Hallmark Shop at Frederick Towne Mall in Frederick, Md. He also owned a Hallmark store in Chambersburg, Pa., but sold it in the early 1990s.

Slocum said an amendment to the lease, which he couldn't discuss in detail, played another factor in the store's closing.

Wills said she couldn't comment on lease agreements between the mall and its tenants.

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