The Warren Mall has lost its manager and one of the few remaining stores.
Stephanie Flowers, former local mall manager, community outreach organizer and the manager of Bargain Books and More said Friday she "parted ways with the mall over a month ago."
The book store was owned by the mall owner Mike Kohan who made the decision to close the book store, Flowers said.
"He closed the store and things just weren't working out," Flowers said. "We had our differences, so I left."
Kohan purchased the mall from George Zamias for $720,000 in April of last year, and brought in Bargain Books and More and Label Shopper, which occupies the former 10,000-square-foot site of the Dollar Store, in late March of this year.
Flowers said in March she was hopeful she could bring in local business and viewed the mall as a work in progress.
"I'm trying to see what we can do to breath some new life into a dead mall," Flowers said.
Since her exit, the mall has had no acting manager, but a sign on the former mall manager office says Michael Marfink is the mall foreman.
"We were finally starting to make a difference," Flowers said. "Hopefully they can get someone that can do that for them and revive our mall. Our mall does have a lot of potential."
Kohan and mall foreman Marfink were unavailable for comment.
Juanita Jones was the mall general manager from last July to March when Flowers took over.
As early as 2008, Kohan began purchasing properties throughout the Midwest. After buying the Northland Mall in Minnesota in January of 2009 for $1.8 million he told the Daily Globe of Worthington he invests in smaller market malls "because they cost less per square foot and their tenants are often the only store of their type within a large radius."
This would enable the anchor stores in smaller markets to remain open when the national companies start to shut their doors, he said. That apparently has saved stores in Warren and Jamestown, N.Y., when Kmart and Sears began to close a number of their stores in December.
"In a small market, they can't do it, because if they take J.C. Penney out of the mall you're not gong to have another J.C. Penney within 200 miles. Small markets are kind of safe," Kohan said in 2009.
A number of distressed malls Kohan has purchased have not been able to pull themselves out of decline.
Most recently, the Kohan owned Village Square Mall in Effingham, Ill., was temporarily closed in June for the second time since January for delinquent utility bills, according to the Effingham Daily News.
The Woodville Mall in Ohio was closed by a court order and tenants were given a deadline of Jan. 6 to leave the property when a Common Pleas judge granted a preliminary injunction after county inspectors deemed the mall a safety hazard, the Toledo Blade reported.
"Inspectors had found problems including large holes and collapsed areas in the roof and water leaking into public and nonpublic areas," the Blade reported.
A number of employees at the Sandburg Mall in Galesburg, Ill., were laid off without notice last July, The Register-Mail of that community reported.
"The mall has no traffic," Kohan told the paper. "It's not necessary to mop the floors every day."