Dillard's nearing final day

Dillard's in Oakwood Mall is expected to be closed by the end of January 2020.

ENID, Okla. — When Dillard's announced in June it would close its store in the Oakwood Mall, it promised to do so by the end of the year. Now at the start of 2020 the store is lingering on, but not for much longer.

Closing sale signs are everywhere throughout the store, which now opens at noon, and all remaining stock is deeply discounted. But still, no exact closing date has been given, manager Dan Petersen said, not even to him.

Petersen just came into Enid on Thursday, from another Dillard's store just closed in Iowa where he worked for six years.

The Enid location's previous manager still is with the company, was moved to a Tulsa store, Petersen said. As for Petersen, he's stepping into that vacancy to oversee the last few days, or possibly weeks.

The only date he's certain of is Jan. 31, when he hands over the keys to Oakwood Mall's ownership. So, sometime between then and now, the Enid store will make its last sale.

With Dillard's gone, JCPenny will be the sole anchor store left at Oakwood.

In July, Enid resident Ruby Wilson started a petition to change Dillard's mind, collecting signatures all over town asking the retailer to stay.

She partnered with Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce to help get word out, and ultimately around 1,000 signatures were collected and sent in to Dillard's, chamber President Jon Blankenship said.

It didn't work.

"They acknowledged it was received, but there was no indication that it had any impact," Blankenship said. "It was a nice effort on the part of (Ruby Wilson) to try and initiate that though."

Dillard's closure hurts the Enid retail market in two ways, he said. Most obvious is direct sales lost, but as a "retail drawing card" for Northwest Oklahoma, its absence could mean fewer visitors, or less frequent visits, to Enid from surrounding areas.

In turn, that's fewer outside dollars spent on gas, food and other retailers in town.

"So the loss of Dillard's is a bigger deal than just the loss of the store itself. There are people that come into the market because of (Dillard's)," he said.

It might sting to see it go, but it's far from fatal. New businesses are on the way, and existing businesses in Enid are doing well, he said.

The city has a goal, spearheaded by Enid Regional Development Alliance, to reach $1 billion in annual retail sales by 2025.

"We're on pace to do that, and I'm optimistic that we will. It's a great retail market," he said, and Dillard's alone can't derail it.

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Willetts is education and city reporter for the Enid News & Eagle.
Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for Mitchell? Send an email to mwilletts@enidnews.com.

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