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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.

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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