Tunica Outlet says despite vacant stores it is open for business and has big future plans

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TUNICA, Miss. -- Looking at the Casino Shoppes in Tunica you may think the place is closed.

Many businesses have vacated.

"Looks like it is going down here. They need to find somebody to move in or something," said Louis Cohen, a shopper.

Only 12 of the 40 store fronts in the strip mall are occupied.

Those still open have put up signs to let shoppers know despite the looks, they are ready for business.

Virgina Pitts manages the shopping center and said the space has become a victim to its surroundings.

"We operate on the tourists that are coming here to the area, to the local casinos and when their traffic is down, our traffic is down," she said.

She said with a new owner and some new ideas, the Casino Shoppes is planning a comeback.

The management said the plan is to think outside the box and find new ways to draw in people and ultimately new tenants.

"Hopefully in 2016 you are gonna see the new Bingo Hall in Tunica right here at the Outlet Center. We have also been working with a lot of community colleges, trying to bring an outreach campus here in Tunica," said Pitts.

As for the shiny new Tanger Outlet in Southaven, the Casino Shoppes said it won't affect their customer base.

"Eighty-five percent of our customer base comes from the casinos. You can barely pull them away from the casinos to get them out to come shopping. So I don't think you are gonna get them to get in their cars and drive 30 minutes to Southaven," she said.

Shoppers like Crystal Bailey of Clarksdale, who want a place close to home to shop for their kids,  are rooting that the Casino Shoppes make it.

"I hate a lot of stores left. I hate I have to drive way to Southaven just to look for something, especially for my son. That's a lot of driving everyday," she said.

"We are definitely not going anywhere," said Pitts.

The Casino Shoppes owners have been meeting with Tunica leaders on strategies to increase visitors.

They will roll out new plans in 2016 and said one of their draws is that their rent is 75% cheaper than rent in other areas.

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