One of Meadowbrook Mall's Oldest Stores Preparing for Massive Expansion that will Kick Off New Year

By Jeff Toquinto on November 20, 2023 via

One of Meadowbrook Mall’s oldest stores is set to do a massive expansion project that will easily top six figures, according to a store official and Bridgeport resident.
Shoe Department Encore, which is across from Old Navy and near the entrance to Target, will begin yet another expansion in more than three decades at the retail hub, said city resident and business District Supervisor Barry Balon.
“We opened on March 24, 1992, and this will be our third expansion,” said Balon.
The store was originally 4,000 square feet and has been sitting in the same spot since well over a year past the business’ 30th anniversary. The first expansion involved adding more than 5,000 square feet of Champs Sporting Goods.
As for the latest round, it will involve more than 6,000 square feet. It will also involve taking over the space of more than one business.
Shoe Department Encore will take over the space currently held by CP Gifts, which is moving into the former Finish Line site near the Food Court.
This will be our third expansion. Originally 4,000 square feet in the same spot. They will also take over the spot that has been occupied by GNC for years. GNC, he said, will relocate as well to the center concourse area, near the Armed Forces recruiting station. A cell phone store near the outside entrance will also be taken over by the shoe store.
“We will be in the range of 19,000 square feet when done. Our Morgantown Mall location is one that is equivalent in size to what we’ll have,” said Balon. “When you get to that size, there are not many other shoe stores in that range as they’re typically 7,000 to 10,000 square feet.”
Balon oversees the Bridgeport store along with 12 others. All but one in Ohio and Kentucky are in West Virginia.
“This is one of my best locations overall out of all 13 stores. This is the best one we’ve got, and they all do well,” said Balon. “The mall’s traffic has picked up substantially since Boscov’s arrival, but we were doing well before that. A lot of it is having the correct merchandise sought in your area.”
The store, as its name indicates, focuses on shoes. They carry infant shoes from size 0 up, and men’s up to size 16, including work boots and many other high-end styles, including the return of Converse to their selection. He said there is a large selection of women’s shoes in a wide range of sizes.
“The women’s selections make up about 52 percent of the store, with the rest divided among the other groups,” he said.
That large selection will get larger when the expansion is complete. Balon anticipates work to start at the start of next year. He said businesses that are relocating, such as CP Gifts, have to be relocated by Dec. 31.
“Demolition will start it off, which will be substantial, and then we’ll see work begin to get the store ready,” he said. “An expansion of this nature is typically and eight-week project.”
Balon said to prepare for the expansion, as well as the upcoming holiday shopping season, the store will be doing plenty of hiring. He said individuals can stop into the store to inquire about positions and apply for a job.

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