DeKalb may never get a shopping mall, offers substitutes for shoppers

By Gino Hernaiz

Without a large population and high income, DeKalb may never have a mall.

Economic development consultant Roger Hopkins said population and household wealth determine whether a town or city will have a mall. The high-income neighborhoods in DeKalb and Sycamore are predicted to be within a one mile radius of Northland Plaza, said Hopkins.

When businesses look to put another store in an area, they look for several qualifications, Hopkins said. One of the more important qualifications is the income of the town or city where the mall may be established, he said. Hopkins said this is highly essential due to the motives of businesses to maximize profit.

Businesses like malls need a higher density population like 100,000 people every five miles, Hopkins said.

“We simply do not have their demographic and income benchmarks,” Hopkins said.

Freshman business major Larence Reese said he would feel ecstatic if there was a mall in DeKalb. With the lack of a mall in DeKalb, students wanting to visit the nearest mall would have to travel about 45 minutes to get to the Chicago Premium Outlets mall. According to Google Maps, the Geneva Commons mall, located at 602 Commons Drive in Geneva, is closer to NIU.

“If the mall was on or by campus, you would not need to drive 40 minutes to get to the nearest mall,” Reese said.

About 75 percent of DeKalb’s retail stores are on Sycamore Road, Hopkins said. Stores include T.J. Maxx, Rue21, Target, Walmart and GameStop. Hopkins said the recent addition of retail store like Ross attracts customers because they sell retail brand name items from businesses not in DeKalb.

DeKalb is working to satisfy the needs and wants of customers by asking businesses to open up in the city, Hopkins said.

“Food is definitely a big industry DeKalb,” said Hopkins.

Even if there is no mall in DeKalb, the retail sales have been doing fairly well, Hopkins said.

Jennifer Galindo, sophomore pre-physical therapy major, said she thought it would be nice to have a mall in DeKalb. Having a mall would allow more students to get jobs and would provide a place for friends to hang out, she said.