East Hills Mall trying to stay alive

East Hills Mall trying to stay alive
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- Nick Bean has had his business, All Star Dancing Academy, at East Hills Mall for numerous years, and he says despite the tough economic times at the mall, he's in it for the long haul.

"When all the big stores were here, we were very busy in this mall. They left, but I'm confident that others will come," said Bean.

The mall's owner, BH Mall LLC of Los Angeles, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November. Despite that, mall administration remains optimistic.

"It's a tool, a business tool that we're using to help us restructure and come out back on top, like I know we can do," said mall business development director Anne Lynch.

Just about a week away from Christmas, however, the corridors of East Hills Mall remain nearly empty, especially in the evening. The ample parking lot remains scarce with cars.

But Lynch has an idea for getting more potential customers in through the doors. The mall is making itself available for free use to nonprofit groups. Nonprofits can use the mall venue for example to hold fund-raisers. The hope is to draw in more people to the mall at the same time.

The mall has mostly specialty shops. And others are coming in. This week, for example, business owner Tyson O'Brien is opening ScrubElation, which sells medical uniforms and accessories.

Next month, a boxing ring business moves in.

"We're very committed and determined ... we all believe in Bakersfield, and we believe in East Hills Mall," said Lynch.