By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
CORINTH – Optimistic reports early last week were that flood-damaged stores in two Corinth shopping plazas might reopen in a week or so.
Reports this week, however, indicate that it will be weeks – and perhaps months – before Belk, JC Penney, Kmart and Kroger will be in operation again.
The two department stores in the Southgate Shopping Center on Cass Street are assessing their situations after the May 2 storms and flooding that swept across Northeast Mississippi.
“We’re still in the process of trying to get the store cleaned up,” Belk spokesman Ralph Pitts said on Monday. “Merchandise and fixtures were damaged, and we’re still working with contractors to get dates aligned to be able to project when we might reopen.”
So, too, with JC Penney.
“Damage assessments are still being conducted, so we will have a timeline after they’re complete,” said Penney spokeswoman Ann Marie Bishop.
For now, Penney employees are being paid for their normal work schedules, Bishop said, and once repair work begins some employees will return to work to help with that.
“I’m happy to say that through our associate hotline we have reached all our associates and they’re all OK,” Bishop said.
Another 10 businesses in the shopping center are closed for now, as well: Pizza Inn restaurant, Hamp&R Block, Sally’s Beauty Supply, Allstate insurance, Express Check Advance, Maurice’s clothing, Bookland, Bestway Rent-to-Own, Shoe Department and Dollar General.
At the Fulton Crossing Shopping Center at U.S. Highway 72 and Fulton Drive, timing to reopen Kmart, Kroger and Factory Connection remains uncertain.
“Kmart is still working on the cleanup efforts and will begin working with the landlord on building repairs in the upcoming week,” said spokeswoman Kimberly Freely. “However, at this time no timeline has been determined to reopen the store.”
A spokesman for Kroger was unavailable for comment.
The temporary store closings are expected to have an impact on sales tax collections for the city.
Though confidentiality and competitive issues preclude giving sales tax information for individual stores, Kathy Waterbury of the Mississippi Tax Commission said sales taxes for Belk, Penney, Kmart and Kroger combined amount to about 7 percent of Corinth’s monthly sales taxes.
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.