Pet owners in north Chandler soon will have to venture a few miles farther to pick up doggy essentials and fish food.
A Petsmart at the Sun Village Fair shopping center on the northeast corner of Warner and Alma School roads is closing July 27, said Jessica White, spokeswoman for the Phoenix-based pet superstore chain.
The 18-year-old store's closing will leave the old but still busy shopping center with one empty big box and one fewer anchor.
Big boxes are the supermarket-sized retail businesses that people love to hate while they one-stop shop in them. They serve as huge anchors for smaller shops, providing visibility and walk-by business from people who are doing their bulk shopping at the big stores.
Fortunately, the aging Chandler retail center still has Fry's and Wal-Mart stores to keep shoppers coming back.
"You need to have one or more large anchors for the smaller businesses," said Tom Rex, retail expert at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
Sun Village Fair has dozens of those smaller businesses from clothing shops to delicatessens.
The shopping center is much bigger than typical supermarket-anchored neighborhood retail plazas but less than half the size of the newer, so-called power centers such as Chandler Festival at the northeast corner of Chandler Boulevard and Loop 101. A power center typically features lots of big-box stores, not just two or three.
In fact, Chandler Festival houses a Petsmart, which the retailer hopes will attract the Sun Village Fair customers, White said.
Mary Akiyama said she will be shopping there when her nearby Petsmart closes, but she'll miss the convenience of the Sun Village location.
"It was so much easier to run to this mall," she said. "I could come here, park and go to Wal-Mart, Fry's and Petsmart. It was economical. In this economic crisis, driving from place to place is not economical. Wal-Mart, Fry's and Petsmart met our needs. For one-stop shopping, this was it."
The Sun Village Petsmart is not hurting for business, White said, but it is dated.
"That store is 18 years old, one of the oldest in the area," she said. "As Petsmart has evolved, our store design has evolved."
She attributes the decision to dump the older location to the "life cycle of stores" and not to its profitability.
Rex said recessions typically are worse for older shopping centers than the newer ones.
But he said the key cause for many local store closings is the overabundance of retail in the Valley.
"We're grossly overbuilt, but when the economy is growing you can get away with that," Rex said.
When the economy is in recession, there is not enough spending to support all the extra retail space, he said.
Besides the soon-to-be-vacant Petsmart, Sun Village Fair owner Phoenix-based PDG America Shopping Centers lists 10 smaller shops available for lease on the retail center's Web site.
"We were hit with several leases that ended at the same time," said Daniel Petersen, PDG America director of leasing.
The faltering economy and the lease expirations dealt the aging center a double punch, Petersen said, but he already has a letter of intent with a national retailer to fill the Petsmart space. And Wal-Mart is planning a major expansion that will boost the shopping space significantly, he said.
PDG America also is planning a face lift for Sun Village Fair, hopefully to begin within months, Petersen said.
Petersen expects with that spruce-up and the newer, bigger Wal-Mart, the shopping center soon will be fully leased again.
"We're very excited about this center going forward," he said.
The Sun Village Petsmart will stage clearance sales sometime before the store shuts down, White said, although she could not say when they would begin.
There are no other East Valley Petsmarts pegged to be closed, she said.