HOBART | Northwest Indiana residents will have to turn elsewhere to find pleated khakis and crewneck sweaters, if they used to shop at the Gap store in the Westfield Southlake Mall.
San Francisco-based Gap Inc. has closed the Gap in Hobart, as part of an ongoing strategy to shrink the clothing store's footprint in North America and grow it internationally.
Shoppers, however, may not mind the Gap's absence at Southlake Mall, since clothing and footwear retailer Buckle is moving in to the second-floor space it vacated. Buckle, which is a youth-oriented store known for its jeans, currently is located one storefront away from where Gap used to be.
Gap has been shutting down more than 20 percent of its locations nationwide, and the Hobart store failed to survive the cut.
"Our goal is always to meet the ever-evolving shopping preferences of our customers, and we felt this store didn't provide the best experience for customers moving forward so we made the decision to close it," spokeswoman Liz Nunan said.
In 2011, Gap Inc. announced it would close 189 Gap stores in the United States by the end of this year. The company planned to shift its focus to online and international sales.
The retailer has since opened new stores in China, Mexico and France.
"We want each of our stores to be the best possible representation of who we are – a well-loved American brand known for its optimistic, casual style," Nunan said. "We're constantly re-evaluating our real estate portfolio to ensure we have the right stores in the right places to best serve our customers. As part of this long-term real estate strategy, we've continued to look store-by-store at our specialty fleet to determine which stores meet the standards we've set for our brand."
Anyone who likes sporting the Gap's styles can still visit the outlet store in Michigan City or the Orland Park location. The Gap still has more than 20 Chicago-area stores, but they are mostly located on the north side of the city and in the western suburbs.