The Tanger Mall Calls It Quits

Tuesday, August 10th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A company scrapped hopes and jobs for the struggling town of Stroud. Tornadoes ripped across the Tanger Outlet Mall in May leaving 300 people out of work. The company that owns it will not rebuild. When Stanley Tanger and his outlet mall came to town in 1992, residents were so happy they hugged him for helping their town. Shoppers were happy, too; believing they found bargains that couldn't be matched in Tulsa or Oklahoma City. The city got a boost, eventually the mall generated 150 thousand dollars a month in sales tax. Then tornadoes raked across Stroud in May leveling part of the outlet mall leaving 300 people out of work. "And then the last blow was dealt yesterday," says Joe Hankins, Stroud mayor. That's when the mayor learned his town had lost the outlet mall and his wife had lost her job, she managed a store there. "We knew that it was going to be rebuilt, our corporate had promised us a job, they were coming back, they kept us on the payroll, our benefits and everything was as is," says Debbie Hankins, former store manager. Now she's looking for work, and her husband, the mayor, is looking for another way to rebuild the town's economy. It's going to take a little while but we'll have our jobs back plus some more," says Hankins. That's going to be hard because the tornadoes took much more than just the mall. The town's second largest employer, Sygma Trucking, chose to move to Pryor rather than rebuild. The hospital closed because of the damage and Integris Healthcare decided it would not reopen. "We're going to concentrate on the hospital, getting it back in operation, and we're working on an industrial park," says Hankins. The city hopes to attract a new business to the outlet mall site. The Tanger company has offered to help, as long as the city does not try to recruit another outlet mall. In all, 500 jobs were lost in Stroud because of the tornadoes. The malls owner decided not to rebuild despite two and a half million dollars in state incentives.