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Is new outlet mall a threat to local stores?

Does the new Asheville Outlets shopping center pose a threat to Hendersonville retailers?

Chuck Edwards thinks so.
The chair of Hendersonville's Business Advisory Committee told committee members that the new outlet mall could erode sales in Henderson County and lower sales tax collections.
"I feel like it ought to be on somebody's radar screen to analyze the impact on our community and the tax base," Edwards said during an advisory committee meeting last week. "You've got $2½ million in sales tax (in Hendersonville) that's fairly stable and new sales tax generated right across the county line. It seems like our $2½ million is going to be at risk." (The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that the outlet stores are projected to generate $8.3 million a year in state and local sales tax revenue.)
Others weren't so sure that the new shopping center would cause a ripple.
Bob Williford, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said the business group got a mixed response when it polled retailers about the outlet mall. "They all thought it won't affect me but it will affect somebody pretty bad," he said.
Larry Rogers, who heads the pro-business Partnership for Economic Progress, added, "I haven't heard anybody in our group complain about it. It has not come up."
The new mall, featuring 325,000 square feet of retail space, is scheduled to open May 1 at the old Biltmore Square site. Although mall owners have declined to name the stores, Wilson's Leather, Vera Bradley, Express, Brooks Brothers and Kay Jewelers Outlet are advertising for managers for mall stores, the Citizen-Times reported. Asheville Outlets is hosting a job fair from 8 a.m. to 7p.m. on March 26 at the Expo Building at the WNC Ag Center.
The new retail attraction could even have a positive impact, said city budget analyst Bryan Pahle, especially if it generates spinoff visits from tourists.
"I think the retail coming into the area could actually benefit us," he said. "You could have people coming to see our downtown and eat at our restaurants."