Sunday, December 11, 2011

Recovering? We're Not Even Close

Former Chevy's Fresh Mex, West Oaks Ocoee
Closed Chevy's front entrance

This past Saturday I dropped the two Labs off at a PetSmart for their sorta-monthly grooming. I say sorta-monthly because it takes four to six weeks for the Labs to reach a point where a certain head-turning aroma begins to waft up from their yellow bodies. When I can tell they're around without seeing them then it's time for a bath. And being close to Christmas I didn't want stinky dogs to ruin the occasion, so I was doubly motivated to drop the characters.

On the way back out of West Oaks I drove through the section of the mall property where there used to be a Toys-R-Us, Chevy's Tex Mex, and Border's stores. Over the last twelve months I've watched the Toys-R-Us and then the Borders shut down. On the way out I stopped and captured a few photographs of this now out-of-business Chevy's

Former Chevy's Fresh Mex Empty Interior, West Oaks Ocoee
Looking through the dirty windows at the empty interior

It has been a long harsh slog these past five years in the section of town around Ocoee. I've watched one major store after another shut down and move out. The Toy's-R-Us moved to the Mall at Millenia, right across from the Home Depot and into the empty building where Expo used to be before it went out of business. Border's had been dying a slow death since around 2006. The store at West Oaks was closed in March, and Borders finally closed everything this past September. With the demise of Chevy's there are now three side-by-side large stores sitting out in front along West Colonial. I have no idea what the state of the larger mall is anymore.

It's a shame it all turned out this way. My wife and I used to take our young girls to eat at Chevy's (and at a Don Pablos that used to be around the corner before it closed and moved out). After dinner we'd go to the Toys-R-Us and window shop, picking up some little item for the girls. Then we'd go over to Borders for mom and dad to pick up something to read. Oddly enough we didn't spend that much time in Best Buy (and to this day I still don't unless it's something I really need and I know is in the store).

As the years wore by the traffic grew thinner, both out front and in the mall. With the real-estate bust and the continuing high unemployment, 'edge' businesses such as these continue to shut down all over Orlando.

As for Chevy's, there's just two stores left in Orlando. There's no telling how long they'll be in business before the entire chain leaves, just like Donatos and so many others.

West Oaks Mall Borders Closing Store Front
Borders Closing in March 2011

Exit - Store Closed
Closed Toys-R-Us


More Toys 'Я' Us construction
Constructing new Toys-R-Us at Mall of Millenia September 2010, where the Expo used to be

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