ENID, Okla. — An Enid resident has started a petition for Dillard’s corporate officials to reconsider their closing of the Oakwood Mall location.
Ruby Wilson said she had been circulating the petition around Golden Oaks, and that she and other residents are encouraging people to take the petitions “wherever they go” in an attempt to make it a citywide effort.
“A week ago Sunday I was discouraged about Dillard’s leaving,” Wilson said. “I thought, ‘Well, something needs to be done.’ So I went to my computer and penned this petition. And we had our (steering) committee meeting the next day and I presented it, so it’s just been going on after that.”
The company confirmed the store closure June 20.
"We will operate the store as a clearance location until its closure around the end of the year," said Julie Johnson Guymon, a spokesperson for Dillard's Inc. "We strategically close locations from time to time, and such is the case with our Enid store."
Wilson estimates between 200-300 people have signed the petition, and she has set a deadline for Sept. 1 to take the petitions to Dillard’s or send them in to company executives.
“I was hoping it would catch fire, you know that the whole city would eventually back it, but I can’t do it all myself,” Wilson said. “I have to have help from city leaders and for everybody to embrace it to get the signatures which is what I was hoping would happen.”
Wilson dropped off copies of the petition at the Enid News & Eagle and at Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce for residents to sign, chamber President and CEO Jon Blankenship said. Anyone who wishes may sign the petition, whether they are members of the chamber or not.
“We’re going to be requesting that our ambassadors have an opportunity to look at signing that as well,” Blankenship said. “We appreciate Ruby Wilson for taking the initiative with that … it certainly never hurts to try.”
They have not run into anyone they have talked to who would not sign the petition, Wilson said.
“It’s the main source of clothing here in town,” Wilson said. “This is going to be such a drastic loss for us to lose Dillard’s. It’s (not just) Enid, it’s the whole surrounding area of the state. People come to Enid and shop from all the surrounding areas.”
Wilson said she just wants the petition to get off the ground, and would like to see people man the doors of the store to get people to sign the petition as they go in.
“I just hope we can keep Dillard’s here,” Wilson said. “Everyone that we talk to, they’re just lamenting they’re closing, we need them here.”
Owners of Oakwood Mall said in June they were surprised by Dillard’s announcement it would be closing its location in Enid, according to Sb Retail Group Carlsbad LLC founding partner Todd Routh.
With Dillard’s lease scheduled to end January 2020, Sb Retail was in talks with the retailer about renewing, he said.
In negotiations, Sb Retail offered better rent rates, facility upgrades and more, Routh said, but nothing they put on the table seemed to work.
Staff writer Mitchell Willetts contributed to this story.