Saturday, January 11, 2020

Factory Stores at Batesville, Batesville, MS

Today's post highlights Panola County, MS, retail.

Tanger Outlets Southaven isn't the only outlet mall in the state of Mississippi. Gulfport Premium Outlets and Outlets of Mississippi (in Pearl) are the two other major players. But there are a number of other outlet malls in the state as well, some of which were always minor players, others of which have only more recently downgraded to that status following a bigger buzz at their inception. Like the Casino Factory Shoppes we saw previously in Tunica Resorts, MS, the Factory Stores at Batesville is another example of a Mississippi outlet mall whose glory days are now behind it.

Located at the northwest corner of I-55 and MS Highway 6 right at the Batesville exit, the Factory Stores at Batesville began life in 1995 as Factory Stores of Mississippi. A September 2000 article from the Mississippi Business Journal is the lone source I've found with information on the mall, but thankfully, it's got a lot of info. I've included it in its entirety for you below:

Thousands stopping in Batesville to shop for bargains 
BATESVILLE – Who’s stopping to shop at the Factory Stores at Batesville? Just about everybody who knows about it. 
“We stay so busy, it’s hard to keep up with everybody coming and going,” said Ellen Smith, mall manager. 
Since opening Factory Stores of Mississippi in June 1995, the 135,000-square-foot outlet mall, located less than an hour south of the Tennessee line, has been a welcome oasis for shoppers as the only outlet center located directly off Interstate 55.  
“In addition to people in the area who know about us, we have a lot of travelers, especially from Jackson to Memphis and back, who plan an extra hour or two to stop by,” Smith said. 
Every day, 67,000 vehicles travel the intersection of I-55 and Mississippi 6, where the Factory Stores at Batesville is located, for an annual total of 24.4 million automobiles.  
“Our high visibility and accessibility to the area’s sights and activities have a great impact on the center’s marketing and public relations decisions,” said Smith. 
Every month, 52,000 people stop to shop in the location where nearly 1.2 million people live within a 45-minute drive of the center, and more than 10,000 hotel rooms house travelers in the same radius.  
With a primary market that includes all north Mississippi counties, Memphis and Arkansas, the outlet mall’s secondary markets encompass central Mississippi counties, Louisiana, Missouri and Tennessee, and its tertiary markets include south Mississippi counties and Alabama. 
“We’ve been booming,” said Nell King, assistant manager of Bass Outlet Store, one of 31 stores located at the outlet mall. “We get in shipments every Thursday, and have to have new merchandise out at a certain time. As soon as we get it out, it’s gone. In addition to travelers who drop by, we have regulars who check in often, not only to check out new merchandise, but to see what our weekly specials are.” 
On the day information was gathered for this story, Bass Outlet Store featured men’s, women’s and children’s shoes for $2.99 and the store was swamped. 
“Shoes are our biggest sellers,” said King, between breaks of ringing up customers. “Since school started back, we’ve been busier than ever, and the store ordinarily stays steadily busy.” 
Leston Cowart, a manager for American Outpost, said the only time traffic was slower was during the dog days of summer. “Fewer people were getting out of their air-conditioned homes and cars when it was so hot,” Cowart said.  
Other stores at the outlet mall include Book Warehouse, Bugle Boy, Claire’s Boutique, Duck Head, Florsheim Shoes Outlet, Holliday’s Fashions, Kidz World, Paper Factory, Sports World, Sussie’s of Mississippi, Van Heusen, Vitamin World and Welcome Home. 
“We’re in the process of expanding and signing contracts with a couple of other tenants and a restaurant, which we cannot name at the moment,” Smith said. 
The outlet mall originally opened as an L-shaped section, and recently opened the north end leg, creating a U-shaped shopping center. Part of the north end is used for job fairs for the stores and the local community, warehouse sales and special events on weekends. Antique shows are scheduled on four consecutive weekends beginning Nov. 18. A theater may be added later on, she said. 
“This center is part of DHW Properties, which includes the Cracker Barrel next to us, hotels along the corridor in this area, and a housing development called Lakewood Villages behind us that has exclusive homes,” she said. “We’re part of this bigger entity, so the outparcels of the property that surrounds us belongs to them. That’s where we’ll expand. We’re looking to add restaurants in that area.” 
Promotions fuel local traffic, such as three shopping spree weekends, “Dear Season,” “Summer Blast,” and “Wear Green, Get Green,” and other annual events.  
On a regular basis, the factory outlet stores donate merchandise to charitable organizations such as the Hope Ministries in Senatobia and the Panola County Food Pantry, with Simmons World of Sleep recently donating 43 mattresses to the needy, Smith said.  
Recently, the name and logo was changed from Factory Stores of Mississippi to Factory Stores at Batesville to better reflect its identity and location and lend ease to advertising, Smith said. 
“We are working on our web site and should have it finished in the next four to six months and we will have links to all our stores,” she said.

Indeed, the aforementioned website did launch by 2002, and - per the Wayback Machine - listed a nice variety of stores. It also had a surprisingly extensive page describing the various attractions in the surrounding area. Feel free to play around with that link and explore their webpage from that era.

Screengrabs from the Factory Stores at Batesville website, circa 2002. Courtesy Wayback Machine


Obviously, I'll have pictures of my own coming up later in this post - as well as additional, more current information - but first, I thought it would be a good idea to share images of the outlet mall from its heyday. Compiled from various sources (most notably LoopNet), those images are presented below, along with some commentary.

The interstate-adjacent road sign for the mall, listing a number of its name-brand tenants.

An aerial view of the mall. Note the same road sign pictured above can be seen just right of center in this image. It appears that at the time this photo was taken, instead of featuring the store logos as shown in the previous shot, this sign featured only the logo for the mall itself, which was included earlier in this post.

Some Bing Bird's Eye views of the complex. It appears the VF Outlet store at the northeast corner (upper right in the top image) was the expansion point discussed in the article included earlier in this post.

A streetside view of the mall and its road sign.

At this point we begin a section of storefront shots, many of which come from former lease listings for the complex. The two collages above are from lease listing brochures.

Just so you know, the stores below are being presented in no particular order. I've made no attempt to organize them into the order in which they were located within the outlet mall, for example. The images are just here for historical purposes.

Rue 21 evidently relocated to a different spot within the mall at some point. Compare this image with the older Rue 21 storefront shown previously.

We end this batch of photos with a shot of a key ring for the complex, featuring the original Factory Stores of Mississippi name and logo. Courtesy Twitter


As the following Google Street View captures show, the Factory Stores at Batesville were starting to become a little sparse as of 2014. This can also be seen in the lease plans for the center included below.

Perhaps the best indication of the mall's slow and steady demise can be seen on the interstate-facing road sign. Here it is in 2013... 

...then in 2016...

...and finally, in 2018 (and note that Rue 21 was already closed by this point, too; they simply never removed their placard from this sign).

The reason for the loss of tenants - and subsequently, traffic - is, as always, multitudinous. For one thing, things like this simply happen over time - stores close, customers choose to shop elsewhere. In some cases, certain tenants relocated elsewhere in Batesville (ex. Rack Room Shoes) or went out of business entirely (ex. Holliday's Fashions). More specifically and most recently, the 2015 opening of Tanger Outlets in Southaven dealt a major blow to this mall. I discussed Tanger having a similar effect on the outlet mall in Tunica, but arguably, the Casino Factory Shoppes were already dead; Tanger just solidified that status. On the other hand, I think it is entirely fair to blame Tanger for outright killing the Factory Stores at Batesville. To be fair, stores had already left and this mall was already dying, but it wasn't yet dead; Tanger's arrival opened up the doors for the demise of the remaining stores, and thoroughly squashed any chance at long-term survival.

Given that Tanger is located only a half-hour away and in a much more popular destination for retail, a number of tenants jumped ship from Batesville and made the short relocation up to Southaven. Among these were Dressbarn and Kitchen Collection. (Incidentally, these two chains have since gone out of business, but that still doesn't help Batesville any.) Other stores that had closed up shop in Batesville years earlier reappeared in Southaven, such as Bass and Van Heusen. VF Outlet lasted a short while with dual locations, one in each mall, until finally closing in Batesville in the summer of 2017. Rue 21 and Vitamin World both enacted nationwide closure rounds in 2017, further impacting the Factory Stores at Batesville. Ultimately, the mall was left with a mere handful of tenants as Tanger Outlets Southaven sapped up all the attention just 45 miles to the north.


I began attending college at Ole Miss in the fall of 2016, and the route from my home in Hernando to Oxford takes me straight past the Batesville outlet mall on a regular basis. Since that time, I've stopped twice to take pictures at the complex for an eventual blog post (which you're currently reading!), first in June 2017. My photos from that visit follow.

This first photo actually comes from November 2015, on what was likely my first trip to Ole Miss for a campus visit. It's not the best, but you can still see a respectable amount of cars and businesses.

Moving into my 2017 images now, my June 12th visit took place immediately after a bout of rainfall that left the parking lot wet and the sky gray. I've tried to brighten all these images up a bit in editing, but they still may be a little dark in places.

The largest concentration of (remaining) businesses could be found at either end of the complex. We're beginning on the south end, where It's Fashion Metro (the corner tenant) and Rue 21 are located. Unfortunately, Rue 21 was in the process of liquidating at the time of my visit (as discussed earlier, Rue 21 closed 400 unprofitable stores nationwide in 2017). The van you see outside of Rue 21 was likely picking up store fixtures, and was here the whole time I was (not great for photography purposes...).

As we move down to the bend in the complex, we see a few more signs, but only one more operating business... Promises & Praise, Book Warehouse, and Hot Tunes had already closed sometime prior to my visit, but their signs were never removed. El Mariachi Bar & Grill, on the other hand, is still open, and seems to do good business, too.

The American flag marks the center point of the mall, where the two strips of storefronts bend toward the east in one direction and toward the south in the other. Walking eastward, the first store we encounter is Bobbie's BonWorth, followed by Treasures, a gift shop.

Directly in that corner where the bend is located were the mall offices, as well as the restrooms. We'll explore that area in closer detail later on in this post, but for now, we'll continue our walk toward the opposite end of the complex. In these two sidewalk views you can see examples of the lighted signs for each store that were affixed to the upper awning. Many of them, of course, were blank.

The next stores beyond BonWorth and Treasures were A+, a locally owned school supply store, and L'Eggs Hanes Bali Playtex. If it's not obvious to you by now, all of the stores had red signs, to go with the blue roof throughout the property. I've actually encountered one other outlet mall with an identical design before (in Sikeston, MO), and it's likely there were more as well. Would any of you happen to know if there was a common developer, or at least architect, for these outlet malls?

Dressbarn was the next store of interest along the sidewalk, except per that sign on its door, it closed on February 18th (of what year, who knows, but I would guess 2016), opting to relocate to Southaven's Tanger Outlets. Nearby, the former Kitchen Collection had a similar closure notice posted on its door, albeit this one without mentioning its new Southaven location for some reason. As I wrote earlier, both of these chains have since gone out of business, meaning their spots at Tanger were vacated just like here at Batesville. The difference? Tanger will actually find new tenants for the spaces...

A former Holliday's Fashions is the next ghost retailer to be found on our trek along the sidewalk. It closed long enough ago that there is no fresh closure notice on the doors, but its logo is etched into the glass, which is even better! In case you're unfamiliar with the chain, Holliday's was a Memphis-based retailer specializing in off-price women's apparel. It got its start in 1986, when Michael Holliday opened up a store "to sell at low prices the unsold clothing held by the family's wholesale business." The chain quickly grew, reaching a total of 12 stores by 1991 and 22 by 1999, the bulk of which were in the Memphis area but with locations extending elsewhere into Tennessee as well as into Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. Unfortunately, the late-2000s recession hit the chain hard, leaving Holliday's with only eight stores by the fall of 2011, a mere two of which were located outside of the Memphis area (I'm unsure whether or not Batesville was one of these). Holliday's Fashions ultimately wound up going out of business a short while later.

Beyond that bank of vacant storefronts, VF Outlet is the next - and final - store we come across, occupying the east-end anchor spot at the northernmost point of the mall property. At the time of my visit, Tanger Outlets Southaven was fast approaching its two-year anniversary, and both VF Outlet and Hanes still had stores in both malls. While Hanes would continue onward until the end (spoilers...!), VF called it quits just weeks after my visit, with a closure notice posted to Facebook on June 30, 2017 (reprinted below).

VF Outlet closure notice, dated June 30, 2017. Courtesy Facebook

Having walked along the entire width of the property, I next headed out far into the parking lot in order to get these wide views of the complex. I'm sure the fact that it was a Monday afternoon right after some rainfall didn't help matters, but the parking lot likely wouldn't have been much more populated even on a busy day.

These next few photos were my attempts to photograph the roadside signs for the complex, mainly the smaller one on the property itself (and featuring the mall's logo), since that one facing the interstate is both way too tall and too far away to comfortably walk over to :P  As you can see, the smaller sign had a changeable letter board, which at the time of my visit was advertising Rue 21's liquidation sale.

After walking straight down the tree-lined boulevard that leads to the American flag at the center of the complex, we now find ourselves back along the southern half for a few more photos.

I took several shots of Rue 21's storefront, and did go inside for a little while to see what all was left, but didn't get any photos of the interior. I had never been in a Rue 21 before this visit, and haven't been back to one since, actually.

Moseying on along the sidewalk towards the bend in the mall once more. Included in the above quartet of shots, you might recognize one from my special 100th post teaser set! I was also quite pleased with how the bottom image turned out... that's a reflection as seen in one of the vacant storefront's windows.

As promised, I made sure to explore the little corridor housing the mall offices and restrooms before leaving the property. The first shot above peers down toward this area's entrance (in addition to featuring a Bass labelscar), while the other images look around the space, showcasing such fun items as a quartet of cringeworthy Kitchen Collection posters, a bench featuring the Factory Stores at Batesville logo, and a unique-looking 90s-era Coca-Cola vending machine.

With these final overviews of the property, I wrap up my June 2017 images.


My second visit took place just last month, where I was hoping for blue skies to counteract the rather dreary photos taken on my first visit two and a half years prior, but of course the weather was overcast once again :P  Between that time, though, the blog Jackson Jambalaya made a stop at the Factory Stores at Batesville, and wrote a quick post on the dying outlet mall. You can view that blogger's handful of images at the linked post, but what I want to share from that entry is his video taken while driving around the entire complex, allowing us to see the views from the sidewalk of all the storefronts below the main façade, which I don't believe my images have captured quite as well. I've attempted to embed the video below; hopefully it works properly:


So as you've already seen, only seven tenants remained as of my 2017 visit; even fewer by the time the Jackson Jambalaya blogger visited. In 2019, BonWorth closed due to bankruptcy, and both Treasures and Hanes finally closed as well, leaving only two whole tenants operating in the entirety of the complex: It's Fashion Metro, and El Mariachi Bar & Grill. My photos from December 7, 2019, follow.

I decided to begin this visit with some views from the edge of the property of the road signs, with the images you see above (and throughout this set) alternating between edited and non-edited versions. Well, technically, all of them are edited, as I had to boost the lighting due to the overcast skies. But what I'm trying to say is that some of them also have filters. I thought they looked cool. :P

The changeable letter board on the road sign, as shown previously, was blank, and the main drive down the center of the property wasn't looking any more inviting. I guess that's what happens when you've only got two businesses operating in a complex this large.

Before we get to all the individual photos, Google magicked this panorama for me, created by stitching together a number of the different images you'll see below. I love when it does this!

I think perhaps the magnitude of this dying mall's situation would have been made more obvious had the signs from all the closed businesses been taken down. As it is, to the casual observer it may seem like there was still a good handful of stores here, when in reality a majority of the signs are above vacant spaces.

Aha, this image does a better job of communicating the emptiness! Even the two stores that do still retain signage in this image had already closed down for good, meaning there's not a single open store in this photo.

This one's a bit of a lousy shot, what with all the reflections; I took it out of my car window while driving past (at a slow speed, of course). Mainly I wanted to show y'all that since my 2017 visit, the corridor housing the mall offices and restrooms had been sealed up tight.

I didn't take nearly as many images this time, partly because, unlike last time, I wanted to get quickly in and out so I simply drove my car around, briefly parked in several spots to snap some photos, and left; and partly because there simply wasn't all that much left to see here, obviously. I'm not as big on photographing abandoned properties as some folks in the online retail community (who likely would've had a field day here!), but I can certainly appreciate the strange feeling that comes over you whenever you encounter a place like this...

While its sign (in the top image) is almost totally covered up by that tree, you can see the vacant BonWorth space below, its closure so fresh the windows had yet to be covered over with paper. Likewise, the L'Eggs Hanes Bali Playtex store (in the bottom image) had its windows left uncovered as well, although unlike BonWorth, Hanes did remove its signage.

Although it has severely diminished from a peak of over 300 stores to a total now of fewer than 50, BonWorth as a company did survive its September 2018 bankruptcy filing. And given that the Hanes store was an original tenant of the Factory Stores of Mississippi, its closure on November 20, 2019, means the store (effectively) lasted for the entire life of the Batesville outlet mall, an impressive feat. (Again, more on that in just a moment...)

Here's one more shot of the shuttered mall offices, followed by a final look from the edge of the property and a view from Lakewood Drive of the interstate-facing road sign.

These last three photos encompass some drive-by shots of the mall as I prepared to head back to Oxford, as well as a quick look at a mini road sign for the mall just past the intersection of Lakewood Drive and Hwy 6, a sign I'd never noticed before. Glad I was able to get a shot of it, too, for posterity's sake...


I can say with complete accuracy that 2020 is the year that the Factory Stores at Batesville will become 100% unoccupied and close for business entirely. But that's not a prediction - it's a fact. In January 2019, the Panola Partnership announced that a Northwest Mississippi Community College campus is in the works for the area currently occupied by the Factory Stores at Batesville. Excerpts from the announcement reveal the following details:

Although the plan to purchase the Batesville Outlet Mall and convert it for use as a campus branch of Northwest is still in its infancy, the idea has grown from informal talks over the years to a viable project both the Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen and the Panola County Board of Supervisors have committed funds to, and said they intend to spend more. 
Spearheading this effort over the past year has been the Panola Partnership, and its CEO Joe Azar, on behalf of the aldermen and supervisors. Azar has quietly built a coalition of local elected officials and state lawmakers to help secure funding for the project, all the while courting the interest of factories here and in neighboring counties to also commit their future support of  a Northwest campus. 
[Northwest president Dr. Michael] Heindl, a young and energetic administrator, agreed with locals that Batesville is a prime spot for a Northwest branch, especially with the plans to have the addition focused on workforce training. The idea is to convert the mostly-empty Outlet Mall to a branch of the college that would offer on-site and hands-on training specifically designed by area industries. 
[Batesville Supervisor Cole] Flint said he saw an opportunity when Heindl was named Northwest president. “The day they announced his hiring I asked if he would stop in Batesville on his way home from Senatobia. I met him in the parking lot of the mall that night and asked him if Northwest would want to put something here. He was on board from the start and things began to roll then.” 
The idea is to remodel the existing building so area industries could install the same machinery used on production lines at their facilities and train workers off-site. The plan, officials say, would provide plant managers with trained workers from their first day of employment. The potential for increased production, better quality, less worker turnover, and ultimately, greater profits, is limitless. 
“The Partnership has hired a government affairs consultant to  seek all available funds needed to move this project forward,” [Batesville Mayor Jerry] Autrey said. With a price tag that is expected to reach  $15-20 million, Autrey and other officials are aware that securing funds for the initial outlay are vital to moving ahead with actual renovations. 
“This is a gamechanger for Batesville,” Autrey said. “Right now, we have a nearly empty mall that looks terrible. As we get it going, we hope to have a small hotel in the front and a place to have small events and meetings there too.” 
The proposed Concourse facility has already received on major donation with a pledge from Batesville philanthropist Robert Dunlap. Parking lots and other auxiliary structures for the satellite campus will be built on land west and north of the mall owned by Dunlap. 
“Immediately, this NWCC Concourse Campus will become our state’s showcase training center, located directly on Interstate-55 and State Highway 278 with over 30,000 vehicles combined passing per day. This facility’s exposure will aid in perpetual grant opportunities for cutting-edge training as it will become a major talking point for all of Mississippi to use – not only our Panola County region. We have to make this a reality!” stated Joe Azar.

And make it a reality they did, when in October 2019 the project received a $2 million grant from the state "to help with the heavy-duty electrical wiring that will turn the old mall into a workforce training center." A groundbreaking event followed immediately, taking place on October 4, 2019. “Together, with our local, state, federal, and educational partners, we proudly broke ground on The Concourse, a Northwest Community College campus offering 150,000 square feet of pre and post employment workforce training, serving our region’s industrial needs. It will be located directly off Interstate 55 in Batesville. It will also house the Win Job Center, Families First Center, and provide a WeSpace, MeSpace and Makers Space for entrepreneurs. The Concourse will be a hallway, a 'concourse,' taking a person from one stage of their life to another - from unskilled to skilled – from a closed door to the open door of opportunity. It will be a true one stop shop for a better job and a better you. It will be a true one stop shop for a job,” said Panola Partnership Executive Director, Joe Azar. Images from the groundbreaking follow, courtesy of Facebook and Twitter.

In addition to the groundbreaking images, I was able to locate some renderings of the new Northwest workforce training center, which I've included for you below (with commentary), courtesy of SOZO Architecture on Facebook. Per Northwest, "The campus will be the home for workforce training in the Panola County area and will house new programs including diesel technology, construction trades, robotic welding, and others. Programs were developed based on local industry needs." 

Courtesy Facebook

This site plan for the property, if compared to the Factory Stores at Batesville site plans included much earlier in this post, shows that the old outlet mall building will indeed remain, just heavily remodeled in order to fit the needs of the new facility on the inside (and cosmetically, on the outside). Additionally, two new buildings will be constructed as outparcels of sorts - one a hotel (with pool!), the other a conference/flex space - while an expansion of the parking lot will be built on donated land behind the existing property (as described previously in the excerpted article).

Courtesy Facebook

This aerial rendering ought to give you a better idea of what the property will look like once all the construction and renovation is complete. As I said, the bones of the outlet mall will remain - which is cool - but the property itself will be turned into something far more useful for the community, and better-looking to boot, which is even cooler.

Courtesy Facebook

Courtesy Facebook

It looks like Northwest intends to keep the idea of a central area of the parking lot, like the mall has now, generally intact, only trading in the flag for a tower element and beefing up the curb appeal, of course. In my opinion, these renderings look great, and I'm excited to see what the property looks like once the project is complete.

Courtesy Facebook

This one appears to be a rendering of an interior space, although what that space will be used for, I have no clue. That said, it looks a lot like a communal lounge area, one of which is almost certain to be included here given this will be a college campus, after all! To be honest, I was surprised when I saw the rendering said one of the new buildings will be a hotel; I thought for sure it would be student housing instead.

Courtesy Facebook

Finally, this rendering shows the view from Highway 6 (aka Hwy 278) of the proposed new Concourse; the building you see on the left and stretching off into the background is the existing outlet mall structure, while the two you see on the right are set to be built new. The phrase you see below the "Concourse" lettering - as well as etched into the façade three pics back - reads "The only limits are the ones you set."


What does all this mean for the remaining tenants of the Factory Stores at Batesville? Well, clearly, they're about to be out of a home! That's why the Hanes store finally bailed at the end of November 2019, just weeks after the groundbreaking. (This is also, of course, what I kept alluding to throughout the post as "the end" of the outlet mall.) Per some digging, I also found that El Mariachi has plans to relocate, securing a new spot beside Batesville's Piggly Wiggly - but with plans to stay in their existing location until the new one is complete. 

In fact, according to the Facebook page for the now-former Treasures gift shop, the remaining tenants knew about the likely-impending need to relocate for months in advance of the groundbreaking. On January 22, 2019, the store's owner wrote, "We just had an unofficial visit about where we stand at the Factory Mall. Many of you all may know that the Factory Mall is being sold to the City/County of Batesville. What you may not know is what is going to happen to us, Treasures. We will be here at the Mall a while longer. Right now I am not sure if that is 6 months, a year or maybe even longer. Very soon you may start to see construction out here. This should not interfere with shopping. At some point, we will move to another location. Please follow us along on our journey." Following the groundbreaking on October 4, the owner posted "Update: The City had their groundbreaking ceremony today. Still no word on when they are kicking us out. The rumor is 60 days." Sadly, Treasures would end up closing on November 30, 2019, without relocating.

The only question mark left concerns the fate of It's Fashion Metro, for which I have been able to find no definitive plans, either for closure or for relocation. I guess we'll simply have to wait and see what happens on that one. In the meantime, work is reportedly expected to begin soon on the conversion. "Construction on Phase 1 of the project will begin in the spring [of 2020] with the renovation of the exterior and limited interior renovation of the building. Panola County, the City of Batesville, and other agencies such as Panola Partnership were able to secure funding from federal, regional, state and private sources to purchase the property and complete both phases. The new training center is expected to be completed by the fall of 2021."

While it's sad that the Factory Stores at Batesville declined into dead mall status in the mid-2010s and was unable to recover, I'm extremely happy that the property was able to so quickly secure new life rather than sitting in a mostly-abandoned stasis for years to come. Also, just in general (regardless of the fact that it's taking the place of the former outlet mall), the new Northwest satellite campus promises to bring a huge boost to Batesville, in many ways. I'm excited about what The Concourse will bring to this site, and town, in the future!

I'll conclude this post with a GSV screengrab of one of two billboards for the Factory Stores at Batesville that for years could be found along I-55, one (pictured above) in the southbound lanes just past Senatobia, the other (badly sun-faded) in the northbound lanes headed toward Batesville from Jackson. These billboards were finally covered over late last fall in the weeks following the groundbreaking.

That's what's happening in Batesville. Until next time, happy new year (and new decade!), and as always, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are :)

Retail Retell


  1. As one of the ones who does have a field day photographing abandoned stores, this certainly would have been a fun place to poke around in! There's always something intriguing about these roadside outlet malls. Driving along I-95, I've seen many of these in various shapes of abandonment and neglect, and some that manage to do well. There's something oddly fascinating about a half-dead strip of stores, I guess trying to imagine the place back during its peak as the weird silence of today engulfs you. Visual imagery aside, it's sad to see this place fall apart like it did. I know the developers were trying to make it a regional draw with easy access to the highway, but plopping these large centers in such small towns always seemed a bit odd (at least to me).

    However, converting the old outlet mall into a college campus is a very creative reuse! The renderings of what the outlet mall will become look really nice, and the hotel will be a nice compliment for both the college and highway travelers. The fact that these outlet malls are located in such out-of-the-way locations usually doesn't help redevelopment much, but it's nice to see something happening here!

    1. Well you're always welcome to stop by and explore, but you're going to have to make it quick - I just read that the Mexican restaurant is moving to its new location the first week of February, leaving only It's Fashion Metro (unless they've already closed too), and construction is sure to commence shortly after that! I agree, it's interesting to see how these outlet malls fare - some well, some not so well - and also, for those in the latter category, to imagine what it was like in its heyday, and why it went downhill.

      I know Mississippi has, besides Batesville and Tunica, at least two other less than stellar outlet malls: Vicksburg and Tupelo. Tupelo is one of those where the location seems especially strange. It's still kicking, I believe, but barely! l_dawg has a few photos on flickr. I would like to check it out one day for myself, too.

      Yes, I'm excited that this one is going to be redeveloped! Batesville as a town may be on the smaller side, but the location along the interstate is perfect for that campus. I can't see Tupelo or other similar outlet malls being nearly as desirous for redevelopment should they close, so Batesville really lucked out in the end (as did Northwest!).


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