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Changes coming to Johnstown Mall

The Johnstown Mall, as pictured recently, is due for some changes. Ollie's Bargain Outlet will be moving into the former Gordmans location. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — Ownership of the Johnstown Mall announced Tuesday that Ollie’s Bargain Outlet will be moving in to the mall’s old anchor store area where Peebles and Gordmans once existed,

Adam Wachs, representing ownership of Johnstown Comrie Associates LLC, said this new store represents a transition for the new “demalled” shopping center. He said Ollie’s will be front and center representing about 40,000 square feet of space whose front door will be where the mall entrance once was.

“We are working very, very hard to release that space,” Wachs stated. “We’re excited about this news.”

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet is an American chain of discount retail stores founded in 1982 by Morton Bernstein and Mark L. Butler with backing from Harry Coverman and Oliver “Ollie” Rosenberg. The first store was opened outside Harrisburg, Pa. As of last November, the chain had 389 locations in 25 states. Ollie’s stores feature its namesake Rosenberg, in the form of humorous caricatures throughout its stores’ interiors, merchandising displays and on its logo and exterior signage.

The chain offers: housewares, food, flooring, books, toys, hardware, electronics, clothing, lawn and garden, health and beauty, sporting goods, pet supplies, automotive and seasonal items.

The Johnstown Mall sign is pictured. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

Wachs said that for 20 years, Peebles had the highest volume of customers in that chain at the Johnstown Mall in New York state. Peebles eventually closed, replaced by Gordmans, which in 2020 closed due to the economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Johnstown Mall located at 248 N. Comrie Ave. is now going through a transition where it will be less of a mall. Rather, the stores will feature Johnstown Price Chopper on the left, with Ollie’s as a centerpiece and other retail outlets local shoppers have come to know.

Wachs said his firm has signed a lease with Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, which is looking to move in with a “grand opening” by late summer, if not earlier. 

“We’ll be demalling a large part of the mall,” he said.

Wachs said that in addition to Price Chopper, staying will be Miracle Ear, Fantastic Sam’s and other business activity. He said the Johnstown Cinema stands ready to open again but it “depends on the governor.”

He said he believes Johnstown Comrie Associates LLC doesn’t have to go before the Johnstown City Planning Board because he doesn’t believe there will be new construction involved.

“They’re first in class in retaining business in America,” Wachs said of Ollie’s.

He said Ollie’s offers reduced prices for a variety of products ranging from housewares to health and beauty.

“This is a much better company” than in the past, he said.

Wachs’ company owns the Johnstown Shopping Center too — across Route 30A from the mall. Wachs said another exciting project may be moving in there, but he’s not at liberty to mention it yet.

“We’re 99 percent occupied on both sides of the street,” Wachs said.

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