SIOUX CITY — Next year, for the first time since 2018, all of the Southern Hills Mall’s anchors will be occupied.
Sioux Falls-based Furniture Mart USA, which operates the Unclaimed Freight Furniture store in Morningside and the Ashley HomeStore downtown, acquired the former Younkers anchor store at the mall several months ago; their general contractor, H & R Construction of South Sioux City, is working on a complete renovation of the two-story building’s interior.
Bill Hinks, chairman of the board of Furniture Mart USA, told The Journal this past week that the upper floor will be an Ashley furniture store, while the lower floor will be a Furniture Mart. Plans call for the two stores, each occupying about 45,000 square feet, to be accessible from one another.
The stores are expected to open in the spring and will employ roughly 15 people.
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Demand for furniture in Sioux City has been strong, Hinks said, and he felt the vacant store at the mall would make “a great place for a Furniture Mart and an Ashley HomeStore.”
“We think that Sioux City needs more,” Hinks said. “We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t feel confident that the Sioux City people want to have more choice.”
Younkers, a department store with a longtime presence in Sioux City — at one time it had two locations downtown — closed its Southern Hills Mall location in the summer of 2018 after its parent company, Bon-Ton Inc., went into bankruptcy and liquidated.
(In an odd twist, this is the second time a former Younkers store in Sioux City pivoted to furniture; Younkers’ downtown location of latter days, at 415 Fourth St., is a HOM Furniture. The downtown Younkers store that preceded that location, formerly known as Younker-Davidson, also had a floor of furniture.)
For a while the lower floor of the space was occupied by a store called It’s $5, later renamed Retail Rebel, which sold discounted merchandise in bins and billed itself as “Black Friday every week.” That store eventually closed. The upper floor was briefly used as a kids’ bouncy house venue and periodically housed a Halloween retailer. Most of the time, it was vacant.
Once the furniture stores open, assuming all else at the Southern Hills Mall remains the same, there will be tenants in each of the mall’s anchors. The former Sears anchor space, closed since 2019 then briefly occupied by a store called Hot Buys, is now an arcade-entertainment venue called Tilt Studio.
JCPenney retains its anchor space at the mall despite its parent company having gone through bankruptcy more than two years ago, which resulted in a number of locations being liquidated.
Much of the old Younkers interior was left intact when Retail Rebel’s bins filled the lower floor and when the upper floor was dominated by bouncy houses; almost none of it remains now.
“We’ve gutted everything down to the exterior walls, removed all the interior walls, ceilings, lights, all the ductwork,” said Nate Herbst, proprietor of H & R Construction. The building’s façade, untouched from 1980, will be refreshed “with some new, more modern features,” he added.