After 13 years in Rochester's Apache Mall, teen clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch closed its doors last week.
A wall now covers where the 9,234-square-foot store once operated between Forever 13 and Hers in the Macy's wing of the mall.
It looks like the store never existed.
The Apache Mall management confirmed the fate of A & F on its Facebook page this weekend.
NOTE FROM KIGER: I know the mall forbids any unapproved photography of stores. I did not take this photo and I don't know who did.
"Unfortunately Abercrombie & Fitch's lease expired and they did leave Apache Mall," according to the posting. "However, Victoria's Secret will be relocating to their space in the spring."
Staff at Victoria's Secret confirmed the planned move, which could happen as soon as May. It'll remain open in the current locations until the new space is ready. The change should be a significant expansion for the lingerie store, if it takes all of the A&F space. Victoria's current store in the JC Penney wing is 5,641 square foot.
While A & F's closing came as surprise to Apache shoppers and neighboring mall stores, it was in the works for a while. The mall applied for a building permit for the project valued at $495,000 on Dec. 6.
However, the application did not mention Abercrombie & Fitch. The application for a remodel for Victoria's Secret did list the mall store number as 694, which is where A & F was located. Victoria's current store number is 656. It's not known what store might take Victoria's spot, when it eventually moves.
A & F, which is known for its loud music and its posters of scantily clad teen models, opened in the Apache Mall in the spring of 2000. It was a successful store for the mall, which lists its top three performing retail categories as teen apparel, women's apparel and women's accessories.
The past few years have not been kind to the once-trendy teen retailer with same-store sales steadily dropping. The bright spot at the start of 2014 was that its same-store sales only dropped 4 percent in the U.S., which was less than expected. It followed that with a re-organization of its top executives last week.
Its primary strategy to combat slumping sales has been to close stores. It closed 71 in 2012, which included three in Minnesota. Following the Rochester store closure, it now has only two in Minnesota.
About 50 more stores were closed in 2013. Abercrombie leaders pledged in 2013 that the company would ultimately shutter a total of 180 stores by 2015.