Posted Thursday, February 2, 2012 ---- 10:30 p.m.
A Baraboo shopping plaza is losing both JC Penney and Sears stores, and finding replacements could be a challenge.
In a span of two weeks both stores announced upcoming closings. The property owner, Phillips Edison & Company, tells NBC 15 they have not yet found replacements.
Attracting new chains to town is complicated by a Highway 12 bypass construction project. Right now the strip sits along the route as it slows on its way through the city. In september a bypass opened passing the northern part of town, and in the next few years the former JC Penney and Sears locations will get bypassed as well.
"Now they are just gonig to be further away," said Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Deb Bauer. "There will just be two exits coming into Baraboo so those businesses located on Highway 12 are not going to have that drve-by traffic, that will affect them. North of town here they're already feeling that."
Customers are concerned as well, considering long drives to the Wisconsin Dells or Madison for basic items.
"Some smaller places have closed but this is a big hit, this and Sears are pretty big to the town," said JC Penney Shopper Cindy Hermes. She is contemplating shopping trips to Madison once the stores close their doors.
"It's going to cost you $45 in gas and tke 3-4 hours instead of an hour," she said. "The shoes are gonig to have to be really inexpensive otherwise it's not worth it."