Like many other communities, the Utica-Rome area has lost Sears and J.C. Penney stores to bankruptcy. And now, those spaces could be filled.

Amazon is setting its sights on utilizing empty Sears and J.C. Penney stores as fulfillment centers. The online retail giant excels at generating online orders for its products. It has always been trying to improve the "last mile" of its delivery system--getting packages into the hands of consumers as quickly as possible.

Utilizing large pick-up centers in markets across the country could go a long way towards helping solve this sticky equation for Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos.

Amazon has reportedly been negotiating with mall and premium outlet owner Simon Property Group, and that could be just the beginning of a new master plan for Amazon. If this plan succeeds, Amazon could use this deal as a test balloon to establish a blueprint for acquiring other Sears and Penney outlets NOT owned by Simon, such as those in the Mohawk Valley.

The Wall Street Journal led the way in reporting on these developments. The Journal claimed Simon’s discussions with Amazon began before COVID-19 brought about numerous department store closures.

Many retailers in shopping malls have suffered a steady decline in foot traffic in recent years, but the impact of the pandemic hastened end of the road scenarios for some stores. Partnerships with Amazon could be just what the doctor ordered for malls attempting to fill space.

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