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Anchors aweigh!

The Odenton Shopping Center has been a central part of the community for nearly half a century. Is the local shopping area keeping up with the changing landscape or retail in West County?

The Odenton Shopping Center has been in existence for nearly fifty years. Some have recently called the shopping center an eyesore. Those of us that have lived in the area for most, if not all, of our lives remember the Odenton shopping Center as the town center; the center of commerce for the surrounding area. You could shop at WT Grants or have a casual lunch at the store’s diner. Kids could grab a soda from Beacon’s Pharmacy and then head over to Western Auto for bicycle tire patches. A man could pick up his tailored suit from Gordon’s while his wife shopped at the Princess Shop. Get your haircut at Odenton Barbershop; pick up dinner at the A&P, and a bottle of wine from Odenton Liquors.

Over the years, stores have come and gone. Odenton Barbershop has survived almost fifty years and Odenton Liquors almost forty. There always seemed to be a pharmacy, auto parts, and clothier. The other staple was a department store and/or grocery store. 

What happens to a shopping center when the anchor stores leave?  When the larger national chain stores leave there is less traffic to the shopping area for the independent stores. Can the smaller independently owned businesses survive without the traffic driven by the anchors? Superfresh closed in 2011 and has yet to be filled. CVS has closed and moved across the street.

An anchor store is defined as a larger store, usually a department store of a national retail chain. But you could also argue that an anchor is a stable merchant that has been in the same location and supported the community for decades. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, the presence of anchor stores defines the shopping center type, in this case a neighborhood center or community center.  A neighborhood center is designed to provide convenience shopping for day to day needs of consumers in the immediate neighborhood. A community center offers a wider variety of apparel and other goods, usually having a supermarket, super drugstore, or department store. Walkable, mixed-use areas are becoming the popular design. While the Odenton Shopping Center is on a major thoroughfare and is accessible to pedestrians from the hiker-biker trail and older communities behind it, it does not fit into the current design philosophy of developers.

I spoke to several of the existing business owners or managers. There were differing reactions to the amount of business that has been loss or gained. Depending on the type of business some have seen steady customers or a slight increase. Others have had to restructure their inventory to attract a different customer base. All agreed that the presence of grocery chain would increase their clientele and, of course, benefit the strength of the shopping center.

There are currently four vacant spaces. From what is publically known the departure of the Superfresh, CVS, and Fashion Bug stores were not due to the lack of the customer base or the shopping center, but rather corporate decisions that affected the chains nationwide.

We are watching the Odenton Shopping Center devolve from one defined type of shopping center to another. The question is which way is the shopping center heading? Will it continue to loose tenants and become a strip with empty space? Attract a national, large capacity retailer?  Or fill the space with more locally owned retailers to service the needs of the community. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Shanna February 25, 2013 at 02:21 PM
I shop at Shopper's and right now to get to one I have to travel to crofton (which I hate getting onto RT3 and fighting all that traffic)....Severn or Laurel. I would love it if a Shopper's would move right there.
Ryan Stavely February 25, 2013 at 02:49 PM
Giant Food would be another grocery store that could work in there - next closest one is right next to the Shoppers, and is a bit of a haul.
Greg Mazzella February 25, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Maybe a specialty grocer like MOM's or Trader Joe's?
ken February 25, 2013 at 03:01 PM
they should offer a good deal with Giant, it would place a high end store in the area, Odenton is growing....wake up
Mary February 25, 2013 at 03:17 PM
It's sad that the Odenton Shopping Center is becoming a desolate place. It would be nice if perhaps the Dollar Tree could move to the old CVS location, then a grocery store take over both the old SuperFresh space and the Dollar Tree space to make a nice grocery store. Safeway is too expensive, Wegman's is too big, Food Lion is too small (doesn't even have a salad bar), Weis has terrible customer service. This side of Odenton needs a grocery store, and it's really hard to believe they can't get a chain to come in. When my sister moved into the Seven Oaks community 20 years ago, they were told that a Giant grocery store would be coming to the Blue Water Boulevard shopping center. However, shortly thereafter they were told that Giant decided not to come to the shopping center because the location didn't "meet their demographics." Sounds insulting if you ask me. As much as I like the convenience of the Odenton location (close to where I work; close to both DC and Baltimore; close to where my family lives in Bowie, Crofton, and Odenton), I'm ready to move because it's becoming a depressed place...
Sharon Fox February 25, 2013 at 03:41 PM
We would love to see a GIANT come along,we think it would do really good in that space.
Ryan Stavely February 25, 2013 at 04:42 PM
I sent Giant some feedback from their website telling them that I grew up shopping at a Giant (true) and that I would love to shop there again if they were to open up in Odenton. I'm sure it doesn't carry too much weight, but if you want to reach out to them and encourage them to come here, here's the link: http://www.giantfood.com/customer_service/contact/consumer_affairs_subject.htm Perhaps if businesses have enough people asking, they'll consider it.
Ryan Stavely February 25, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Here's the response to my feedback: Hello Ryan, Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We appreciate your suggestion that we build a new store in the Odenton, MD area. We are always looking for new store locations. I will let our Real Estate office know of your desire for a store there. While I can't make any promises, we will certainly take your request into consideration. We hope that one day we can serve you more conveniently. Thank you, again, for sharing your thoughts with us. We appreciate hearing from you.
Sandy February 25, 2013 at 05:00 PM
I tend to believe a grocery store has not been added to the shopping center because of high rent. I have heard this over and over again. There are other grocery chains out there like Mars and Shoprite that I don't see in the near vacinity. The shopping center was always much busier when there was a grocery store and I don't think there are a lage number of people that care which grocery store, they just want one closer. Yes, Food Lion and Weis are not too far away, but they are if you are on foot or elderly and don't like to drive. I would think a lower rent would increase the number of sites being leased and is more money than getting nothing with empty sites.
Hammbone February 25, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Looks like a good place for more Odenton Apartments!
Mary February 25, 2013 at 06:07 PM
I would love a Giant, too! That's my favorite store!
Mary February 25, 2013 at 06:08 PM
I grew up going to Giant as well! I would love it if they moved into Odenton! While there's one at the shopping center at the 3/424 intersection, it's not very convenient to go there. I think a Giant in Odenton would do well!
Diane in Odenton February 25, 2013 at 07:37 PM
ugh :(
Sharon Fox February 26, 2013 at 02:25 AM
Ryan ~ Mike and I will defiantly do that.... Hope others will as well!! Thanks so much!! Team work...... :)
Sharon Fox February 26, 2013 at 02:31 AM
Sandy - Yes I agree! :)
Sharon Fox February 26, 2013 at 02:32 AM
Oh goodness... hope your kidding! :) Have a good one....
Sharon Fox February 26, 2013 at 02:33 AM
Ryan - Thanks for sending Giants feedback to us...I will send one off tomorrow.
Mark February 26, 2013 at 01:59 PM
I remember reading in the Patch some time ago teenagers came from Laurel to "shop" at the Odenton Shopping Center then ended up accosting a local teenager??? The shopping center has changed quite a bit since I moved into the area 20 years ago. Not only the occupants of the center but the people who shop there. It's no wonder why people go to Crofton or Waugh Chapel to shop. People want to go where they feel most safe.
Rusty Vaughan February 26, 2013 at 07:19 PM
I try to imagine what could prosper there. It's tough. Giant has two too close locations. Either Crofton or Bowie would have to close. The Trader Joes suggestion could fly... Especially if they could bring a complementary business with them. Looking at the value of the property across the street it looks like residence over office might sell well pretty soon. With Arundel Mills and Waugh Chapel so close, Odenton's future might be relegated to bedrooms. Even a train station improvement would not contribute to this center retail- wise.
Jaimie B February 26, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Harris Teeter would be great there and they are trying to expand their Maryland presence. I know first hand how much they improved the community they moved into when they took over an old Safeway in the Kings Contrivance Village Center of Columbia. There were no other grocery stores that would go in there and the other stores were leaving. It was dirty and gross and empty. Now there are no vacancies. It's a great neighborhood and they do a lot for it. Their customer service is great! I've emailed them a few times about coming to Odenton and they have been looking in the AA CO area. You can contact them here: http://www.harristeeter.com/other/contact_us/contact_us_email.aspx MOM's won't come to the area as they don't feel there is the population density and they have two stores within a "reasonable" driving distance. Or that's what they told me when I contacted them.
Jen February 26, 2013 at 08:53 PM
The Laundromat has been there since 1964, was the second business to move in after the pharmacy. How did you miss that in this article?
Greg Mazzella February 26, 2013 at 09:54 PM
Excellent catch! Yes, the laundromat was one of the first businesses. Although the blog was not intended to be a listing of all the businesses that have been in the shopping center. However, the Odenton Heritage Society is looking for information on the OSC's beginning. I would pleased to talk to you offline and record any information you have as to the history of the shopping center. Thank you for the comment.
Sharon Fox February 26, 2013 at 11:08 PM
Oh Boy and Ricks was such a GREAT Place to eat -- Was so sad when that left as well...Glad our children have memories of having breakfast there.... sorry just had to mention that! :) :) I know the area will be bright and wonderful again....Owners making not a penny on the vacant spots at this time.. ugggg - I still have faith it will all come together.
Diane in Odenton February 27, 2013 at 02:25 PM
I've also heard about the high rent as the reason why there's difficulty getting tenants in there, but with NO tenants in some spaces, there is NO rent. Makes me think that something else is going on.
Nan March 01, 2013 at 10:44 PM
How about Mars? And a Mom and Pop type Coffee /pastry/ dessert place.
Nan March 01, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Or maybe Lauer's from Pasadena would like to move in?
OdentenKen March 03, 2013 at 06:33 PM
For those interested in trader joe's, the location request form is here: http://www.traderjoes.com/about/location-requests-form.asp I sent messages to Harris Teeter and Giant from the helpful links posted above. I like Mary's idea about rearranging a few of the stores if one of the retailers needs a certain amount of square footage to consider locating here. Odenton seems to be 15 minutes from everywhere else. If enough of us voice our desire to revitalize the shopping center, the retailers may take notice.
OdentenKen March 03, 2013 at 07:35 PM
Those who would like to vote for ShopRite can go to their contact form here: http://shopriteforms.mywebgrocer.com/ContactUs_.aspx Mars supermarket is here: http://marsfood.com/contact/
Jen Przydzial March 06, 2013 at 02:24 AM
I had the worst experience at the new CVS. Tonight, when I went to pick up my prescription the line was 15 deep and it took my 35 minutes to get to the front of the line. Many people in the line were complaining, saying they have been there multiple times waiting in line for 30-plus minutes to find out there prescription that was called in a day ago, was still not ready. They had one employee working the check out, who would occasionally take people who were not in line and just waiting for their prescriptions. They employees said there was a kink in the computer system. Clearly, this store is not up to handling the business it is getting.
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