"I really wish people would give it a second look ... because it's really turning around to be something Ottumwa could and should be proud of."
The mall has a large trade area, Shettler said, with customers driving in from 50 miles around to shop.
"And I think a lot of national tenants are starting to realize the trade area here," she said. "Ottumwa may not have a huge population basis, but when you draw from a trade area of 50 miles out, all of a sudden you've got shoppers from small farming communities, from small towns driving to Ottumwa."
When it comes to the state of the nation's malls as a whole, Shettler said "what goes around comes back around."
"The mall boom started with enclosed, small areas for people to go and get whatever they needed," she said. "It became a destination for families to go hang out and shop. I think that changed over the years as we saw outlet centers coming in and the big open-air type malls coming up in bigger cities.
"But I think it's kind of coming back around, where people want to be able to get what they need close to home, to run in and get what they need in one location."
— To follow reporter Chelsea Davis on Twitter, head to twitter.com/chelsealeedavis.