The Morehead News

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August 5, 2011

Pinecrest Plaza: It’s not really empty

Aug. 5, 2011 —     You can’t always tell from the parking lot but 13 stores currently are doing business in the Pinecrest Plaza on Flemingsburg Road.

    With that many businesses offering groceries, electronics, furniture, vitamins, animal feed, discounted merchandise and other products and services, why do the plaza parking lots always look empty?

    That’s a question Morehead area consumers are asking, in part because of the noticeable departure of several stores from the plaza in recent years. 

    Walmart exited three years ago for its new store further out Flemingsburg Road. The Goody’s clothing store folded in 2008 only to reopen under new management last summer in the Kroger Center, near another Pinecrest Plaza transplant—Hibbett Sports.

    Movie Warehouse went the way of the dinosaur, as more customers now rely on popular Internet-based movie streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu.

    Most of the remaining businesses, some locally owned and operated, are experiencing the loss of steady traffic to the plaza.

    Mark Keadle is co-owner of Post Net, a duplication service in the plaza. He said business has declined in the past few years.

    “When I moved in Hibbett, Goody’s and Movie Warehouse were here,” Keadle said.

    Asked about the often-empty parking lot, Keadle said the loss of traffic from other stores has only minimally impacted his business.

    “We don’t rely on traffic too much,” he said. “We are a specialized store, so people come and find us, but it’s still affected us some.”

    Keadle said when he and his wife Amy, moved to the Plaza, they moved into the only available space. Now, Keadle said he’s looking at options for leasing space elsewhere in Morehead.

    Games R Us owner Anna Riley said she’s also looking to relocate her gaming store after being in the plaza for little more than a year.

    “When we moved in, it was a little busier. It seems like it’s just dead now,” Riley said.

    “We’re just back here in the corner, there’s not space for our sign to be seen from the road.”

    Riley said she is looking to move closer to campus, where college student sales would be a boon to her business.

    The Dollar Mart has been in the plaza for 12 years and owner Bruce Kirby said business has slowed, but the store retains a consistent customer base.

    “Business is slow because of the overall economy, but our prices and good products help us remain viable,” Kirby said.

    “It’s one of those tough times,” said Phillip Sewell of  Sewell Development and Brokerage, the leasing agent for Pinecrest Plaza.

    “What’s so frustrating right now is this tough economy. If we’d have this vacancy 3-4 years ago, it would have been much easier to overcome,” he added.

    Sewell said in his 23 years of commercial leasing experience, he’s not seen such difficulty leasing commercial property in smaller markets like Morehead, but also said the company wants to make good leasing decisions for the community.

    “Every decision we make is with the community in mind. There are businesses that approached us that were not good for the community,” Sewell said.

    At opposite ends of the plaza, Food Lion and Tractor Supply are the most visible tenants. Food Lion opened in Pinecrest Plaza in 1989. Now 22 years later, it exists on patronage from loyal customers after Walmart’s grocery center took away much of its customer base. 

    A representative from the store’s corporate office commented on that loyalty.

    “We thank the surrounding community for its support for more than two decades and look forward to our customers continuing to know Food Lion as their familiar, dependable, neighborhood grocery store,” said communications specialist Tenisha Waldo.

    At the other end of the lot, Tractor Supply store manager Woody Cundiff said business is good because they sell necessities. 

    “People are always going to feed their animals,” Cundiff said.

    The store manager said animal feed is the top seller.

    “We have a huge selection of food for cats, dogs, pigs, llamas, pond fish, horses and all kinds of animals.”

    Cundiff said the economic recession is good for business.

    “Out of necessity people are being more self- sufficient. We sell seed, fertilizer and things people need to get back to basics.”

    Other tenants in the plaza include national chains like Radio Shack, GNC and Sally Beauty Supply, as well as the Peddler’s Mall, a hair salon and nail salon, a furniture rental store, a pet store and a chiropractor’s office.

    Sewell said his company is working to attract clients to the vacant spaces.

    “We are working daily to find viable tenants that can benefit from being in Morehead and ones that will benefit Morehead as well,” he said.

    Noelle Hunter can be reached at nhunter@themoreheadnews.com or by telephone at 784-4116.

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