CHAMPLAIN — At least one store at Miromar Factory Outlet Center hasn't closed the book on the future, anyhow.
Publisher's Warehouse was a busy place the last few days before Christmas.
"We pretty well came close to figures from last year, which really pleased me," said Manager Rick Rivers.
"Average transactions were really high throughout the season. I think a lot of people headed straight here to this store."
That makes Rivers smile, too, for there are just 10 stores left at the strip mall — less reason than ever to stop and browse.
Since early December, eight shops have closed, including the Champion sportswear outlet, Corning Revere factory store, American Tourister luggage outlet, L'eggs/Hanes/Bali and Bass footwear and clothing outlet.
Five days after Christmas, the Leather Loft packed up and left.
Four empty storefronts make up the eastern leg of the U-shaped mall.
"It's actually working in our favor," said an employee from one of the remaining stores. She spoke on condition of anonymity, since the store corporation doesn't allow comments to the media. "Christmas was good. People had more money to spend (since there were fewer stores at the mall to choose from)."
Another store manager said sales were double her projections for Dec. 23 and Christmas Eve. "And returns have been great, as far as keeping money in the store," she said.
In December, Mall Manager Lisa Getty said the mass departure represents the end of several five-year leases. She expected new tenants would be coming on board.
Comfort Zone Gift Shop and Tanning Salon moved in next to the Sunglass Hut in mid-October. Les Matthews of Rouses Point owns the enterprise. He combined his Fine Imports shop (formerly at the intersection of Lake Street and Route 2 in Rouses Point) and his Comfort Zone tanning salon at the one Miromar store.
"Fine Imports was a duty-free shop before," said sales associate Michelle Brown. "People took it for granted it was still one — so they wouldn't come in."
She said the new spot gives the space they need to display their goods, North Country items such as souvenir sweatshirts and Candy Man Adirondack chocolates and imports that include stuffed animals, jewelry, perfume and soaps.
The Christmas season was a good one for the newcomers.
"Surprisingly, for the amount of stores here, we did very well," Brown said.
Marikita is another Miromar store that seems to like its location.
Selling pottery, rugs and other home-decor merchandise, the shop opened in October '96 and expanded into a second store front in April '97. In a third and adjoining shop, added in August, the firm now sells furniture.
Between Christmas and New Year's Day, employees at Publishers Warehouse tidied up from the holiday rush and served customers who found gift certificates for book-store merchandise in their stockings.
Not even rumors of a giant book store like Barnes & Noble coming to Champlain Centres in Plattsburgh rattles Rivers.
"We're entirely remainders," the manager said. "It wouldn't affect us that much."