Business owner struggles to free VCC before closing at midnight

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

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

Dixon says the last few weeks have been a mad rush to get his business, Dixon’s Online Estate Auctions, fully relocated, and Monday was no different.

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

“There’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 operated for four years at VCC, occupying approximately 90,000 square feet in the mall, which was filled to the brim with his inventory. He says getting the resources to relocate was easy, but finding a suitable place to relocate was the real challenge.

“It took us almost 40 days to find a building, and it’s extremely smaller than this space,” Dixon said. “It’s only about 15,000 square feet. There’s no way in hell we’re going to get it all today.”

With so little time left, Dixon says he’s scrambling to get as much inventory out of the mall as possible because if he doesn’t, he’ll likely lose once the doors close. Dixon says the mall 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 leave a lot of products behind,” Dixon said. “About $45,000 in inventory will be left in the building. Unfortunately, we cannot take everything. We don’t have enough room.”

Although his business is closed on Monday, Dixon says his employees still agreed to come to try to salvage what they could of his online auction business, and he has all hands moving that merchandise onto moving trucks. . Dixon says even loyal customers have agreed to lend a helping hand.

“My wife and I both agreed it was the right thing to do to take 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. Although he lives almost an hour and a half away in Buckingham County, Taylor says he has room on his farm to help store some of Dixon’s inventory.

“I’ve got a deck over the trailer and it’s going to hold a lot of weight, so when Billy had all the pallets in there I just thought maybe I could come over on a nice day when they can load and I’d unload it at his new location 12 pallets at a time,” Dixon said. “It’s just an extraordinary amount of goods, and to get that amount of goods, 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 the bulldozers coming tomorrow, so I don’t see why they can’t give businesses an extension of time to get their stuff out,” Dixon said.

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

“All businesses were given 90 days to move out of the mall. Some people took that time appropriately, some didn’t, but after tomorrow they will no longer have access to the building after the building is turned over to the developers for demolition,” the manager told NBC12.

Once the property is handed over to the demolition contractor, work will be done to demolish the old mall to make way for a brand new sports complex. Cranes are already visible on the Glen Allen property, placing 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 to cash and carry our inventory,” Dixon said.

Dixon’s new location is at 187 Wadsworth Drive in Richmond, Virginia, off the Midlothian Turnpike and Route 76.

“It’s 15,000 square feet, it’s a beautiful store, and we’re leasing from Thalheimer’s,” Dixon said. “They made a lot of arrangements to make the space useful for us. They were a wonderful host and I just wish I could say the same for VCC.”

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

“If we had 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 the last sale on Tuesday between 9am and 2pm. VCC will sell off all chairs, tables and other fixtures.

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