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Cowboy Maloney's Buys Strip Mall

6/06/2005 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Cowboy Maloney's Electric City has become a landlord.

The regional brown- and white-goods specialty chain has acquired a 100,000-square-foot strip mall in Clinton, Miss., located about 18 miles from company headquarters, here, where it will also open its 13th store.

The store, slated to open in mid-September, will fill a 30,000-square-foot vacancy in the Clinton East Mile Mall on Highway 80. The location reflects Cowboy Maloney's recent strategy of saturating individual markets with satellite stores in order to “bring them closer to the customer,” rather than make shoppers travel to more distant destination stores, explained president Eddie Maloney. “The destination business is good for some,” added CEO Con Maloney, “but we have not seen it work in Mississippi,” a state with a total population of only 2.5 million people. “People don't want to drive far.”

Eddie Maloney said the company is “on the right track” with the new strategy, as evidenced by a 21 percent hike in business within the Jackson metro area despite some cannibalization of sales from older locations.

Conversely, the chain may also begin trimming some of its more far flung, less-profitable locations, the brothers said.

The strip mall also represents a departure from the company's traditional lease approach to real estate. Indeed, prior to the purchase, which closed last week, the only properties owned by Cowboy Maloney's were its flagship store and distribution center.

“Over the last few years the cost of [leasing] good locations got pretty high,” Con Maloney said — so much so that buying the shopping center outright made more sense economically than leasing.

The Maloneys plan to completely refurbish the strip mall, which was built in the late 1970s, to give it an upscale look, and have sufficient property to possibly add a second wing in the future. Located on a high-traffic location across from a Wal-Mart superstore, the shopping center will likely be renamed Cowboy Maloney's Clinton East Mile Mall, and its outdoor signage will be capped with a signature cowboy hat.

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