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Fourth clothing store slated to close in Fargo's West Acres

As seen Nov. 12, 2015, Brandi Anderson and Annah Schoonover sort through scarves at Wet Seal in West Acres Shopping Center. The clothing retailer is shuttering all of its 170 remaining stores nationwide. Forum file photo

FARGO—A fourth clothing store will soon close in Fargo's West Acres Shopping Center, but an official said it's a sign of the rapidly changing retail industry nationwide more than a hint of problems at the mall.

Wet Seal, a women's apparel retailer that's been in West Acres since 2001, will close all of its remaining 170 stores nationwide, including the Fargo store, according to several media reports. Officials with the company did not respond to a Forum request for comment, and an employee at the local store said they could not confirm the news.

Chris Heaton, senior vice president of property management for West Acres, said the store will close after liquidating inventory from its own racks, as well as clothing shipped in from other Wet Seals that will close earlier, over the next couple of months. Staff at the store told him they expect to remain open through late March, though it could close earlier if they sell out of products sooner, he said.

The West Acres store has historically been one of the clothing company's better-performing locations, Heaton said. It remained open in early 2015 as the California-based retailer, which was founded in 1962 as Lorne's and changed to Wet Seal in 1990, went through the bankruptcy process and closed more than 300 of its stores.

He said a possible tenant had "great interest" in Wet Seal's space a couple years ago as the brand shuttered many of its other locations, and West Acres officials plan to ask that business if it's still interested.

Wet Seal will be the mall's fourth clothing store to close since last month, with Aeropostale and The Limited shutting down in late December and New York & Co. slated to close Saturday, Jan. 28. The mall's Sears store also will close early this year, and Apple product retailer Simply Mac was shuttered Jan. 18.

Heaton said the upcoming departure of Wet Seal has more to do with "rapid" changes in retail than a sign of slumping clothing sales at West Acres.

"Some retailers have adapted very well and continue to perform strongly, and some haven't been so successful in adapting," he said. "That's why you're seeing some of these closures."

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson is the Features Editor for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He previously wrote for The Forum and the Grand Forks Herald.

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