‘It’s not enough time’: Business owner scrambles to vacate VCC before midnight closure

Virginia Center Commons in Henrico shuts down for good tonight.
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 10:27 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Come midnight Tuesday, Virginia Center Commons will officially close its doors for business. While some people spent the day walking down memory lane in the once bustling building, business owners like Billy Dixon didn’t have that luxury.

“I do feel like I’m being pushed out the door,” Dixon said.

Dixon says the past several weeks have been a mad dash to get his business Dixon’s Online Estate Auctions, completely moved out, and Monday was no different.

Like all VCC business owners, Dixon was given 90 days to vacate the mall once it was announced that the indoor complex would be closing for good, but Dixon doesn’t believe that will be possible by midnight.

“It’s not enough time,” Dixon said. “We’re in the midnight hour, but we’ll make the most of it and go from there.”

Dixon says his business had been operating for four years at VCC, occupying approximately 90,000 square space in the mall, which was filled to the brim with his inventory. He says getting the resources to move has been easy, but finding an adequate relocation place was the real struggle.

“It took us almost 40 days to find a building, and it’s tremendously smaller than this space,” Dixon said. “It’s only about 15000 square feet. There’s no way in heck we can get it all today.”

With so little time left, Dixon says he’s been scrambling to get as much inventory out of the mall as possible because if he doesn’t, he’ll likely lose once the doors lock. Dixon says the mall’s manager took the keys to the mall Monday morning, so he won’t be able to access his merchandise after midnight.

“We’re going to be leaving a lot of products behind,” Dixon said. “About $45,000 in inventory will be left in the building. Unfortunately, we can’t take it all. We don’t have enough room.”

Even though his business is closed on Monday, Dixon says his employees agreed to come in anyway to try and save what they could of his online auction business and has all hands on deck moving that merchandise onto moving trucks. Dixon says even loyal customers agreed to lend a helping hand.

“My wife and I both agreed that this was the right thing to do to give our time,” said customer Tony Taylor.

Taylor says he first started buying from Dixon’s auction site in 2020 and has been hooked ever since. Even though he lives almost an hour and a half away in Buckingham County, Taylor says he has space on his farm to help store some of Dixon’s inventory.

“I have a deck over the trailer, and it will hold a lot of weight, so when Billy had all the pallets out there, I just thought maybe I could come on a nice day they could load, and I could unload it at his new location 12 pallets at a time,” Dixon said. “It’s just an extraordinary amount of merchandise, and to get that amount of merchandise, a lot of it was palletized and set up, and to try to get that kind of product out in 90 days is really unrealistic.”

“I don’t see bulldozers coming in tomorrow, so I don’t see why they can’t give businesses an extended time to get their stuff out,” Dixon said.

But the extra time is something Dixon likely won’t be afforded. The VCC manager told NBC12 that after tomorrow none of the businesses will not have access to the building even if they have merchandise left inside.

“All businesses were given 90 days to move out of the mall. Some people took that time appropriately, others did not, but after tomorrow they will no longer have access to the building once the building is turned over to the demolition contractors,” the manager told NBC12.

Once the property is turned over to the demolition contractor, work will be done to tear down the old mall to make way for a brand-new sports complex. Cranes are already visible on the Glen Allen property putting up the first of the new structures that will make up the sports complex.

“We did cash and carry until 3 p.m., but once the mall closes, I’m sure the mall managers will come around to do cash and carry of our inventory,” Dixon said.

Dixon’s new location is on 187 Wadsworth Drive in Richmond, VA, off Midlothian Turnpike and Route 76.

“It’s 15,000 square feet, it’s a beautiful store, and we’re renting from Thalheimer’s,” said Dixon. “They made a lot of accommodations to make the space benefit us. They’ve been a wonderful landlord, and I just wish I could say the same for VCC.”

Dixon is hoping for a miracle before midnight and that he may somehow be given just a bit more time to move his business entirely.

“Had we been given Jan. 1 or had more time to move, we would have gotten it out in time,” Dixon said.

The mall will be open for one last sale Tuesday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. VCC will sell off all the chairs, tables and other fixtures.