News

Gap clothing store bids farewell to Federal Way after quarter of a century

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

The Gap ducked quietly out of The Commons at Federal Way over the New Year’s holiday, closing its doors after more than 25 years in Federal Way.

A Gap representative declined to comment on the closure.

Mall general manager Gary Martindale was unavailable Monday, but operations director Brian Dahl said the clothing store’s lease was up and the Gap chose not to renew it.

In its 2003 annual report, Gap Inc. expected to open 125 new stores and close 135 worldwide in 2004, with the new stores being primarily Old Navy locations and Gap stores making up the bulk of store closures.

Net sales for Gap Inc., which comprises Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and outlet stores, were up 10 percent as of Jan. 31, 2004, increasing from $14.5 million in 2002 to $15.9 million in 2003.

In 2003, Gap opened 35 new stores and closed 125, according to the annual report. There were 3,022 Gap Inc. stores open at the end of 2003, with 153,000 employees.

Gap opened its doors in Federal Way in August 1975, about the same time the SeaTac Mall –– since renamed The Commons at Federal Way –– opened. In 1999, the clothing retailer expanded into a neighboring space, Dahl said.

Tom Pierson, chief executive officer of the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, said chamber officials had heard rumors preceding the Gap’s departure. He attributed the vacancy to the mall’s redevelopment project, which began last year after California-based Steadfast Properties purchased the indoor shopping center.

“Through the whole reconstruction, it’s been a financial strain on quite a few businesses,” Pierson said. “Every month they work on finishing is a month that strains business.”

Steadfast Properties vice president Jim Yoder was unavailable for comment.

Other major tenants have also departed the mall in the past year. A Mervyn’s store was demolished to make way for a new Target (both stores are owned by the same company), and a Gottschalks pulled out and is scheduled to be replaced by a 16-screen Century Theaters movie complex.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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