"It's very frustrating," Seriki said. "The people think there's nothing happening here. And we are wondering what is happening to us."

Seriki said when she opened her store in the mall in December 2010 — prior to Gibbons' takeover — previous mall management told her not to worry about a big shake up.

"Before I got this place, I said, 'Is this mall going to close?' And they said, 'No, nothing like that is going to happen,' " Seriki said.

Like Shabazz, Seriki used to have a year-long lease but now has a month-by-month lease. Business used to be brisk. Now, it's bumbling. She doesn't know what's going to happen at the mall, when she may be asked to leave, when she'll have to bundle up the homemade dresses she makes and set up shop in her Laurel home.


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"We want them to call us, to talk to us about what is going to happen," she said of Greenberg Gibbons' leaders.

Pete Faletto, who has operated Value Tax 4 Inc. at the mall every tax season for the last 11 years, agreed.

Years ago, his communication with mall management was great, but in the last year, there has been "virtually none," Faletto said, and the local mall management seems to have no more answers than the store owners.

Faletto said he suspects the lack of communication may be the result of nobody at Gibbons knowing exactly what the time frame for changes at the mall are, either, but the company definitely needs to share whatever information they do have.

"Let me know. Contact me. If you are really interested in seeing to or taking care of the people who have been paying rent for the last many years, do it. Let me know what my options are," Faletto said. "Right now, we're in an abyss."

Faletto said the Laurel Mall, his business home for more than a decade, is "clearly a mall on its last legs, and it has been for a while."

Still, he said, "the uncertainty more than anything else is the problem."

Faletto said he has a lease through the end of April, when the tax season ends, but there is a clause in the lease that allows Greenberg Gibbons to kick him out with only five days notice, he said.

"I'm hoping they don't come in with a wrecking ball before then, because being in the tax business, that would destroy me," he said.

Fitzpatrick said Greenberg Gibbons will "give people appropriate time frames to make appropriate decisions" about their transition out of the mall when that time comes.

"We'll handle it professionally like everything we do as a company," he said.

On a recent afternoon at the mall, Durr-Poole was busy packing boxes and tying up loose ends. She's moving her store to Savage Mill, tired of the guessing game at the mall.

"There's no need for me to wait around thinking anything positive is going to happen to me, because it's not," she said of her business odds at the mall.

Other tenants said their plans are less settled. If they had more information, they might be able to make decisions. But all they seem to know is what's plastered in big lettering on the mall's walls.

"Don't judge a book by its cover," one wall reads. "Admit it. You love a good makeover. The amazing transformation begins. …"