Shopping center continues to grow

Howard Dean will be the first to admit that shopping is changing.

Big chain retailers such as Sears and Walmart and Macy’s have shuttered their stores all across the landscape — thanks in big part to increased Internet shopping — but Dean sees a ray of hope in the evolution of shopping.

The longtime property developer and owner of the T.J. Maxx Shopping Center, Loyalsock Township claims he’ just doing what he’s always done.

“You got to spend money to make money,” he said. “You have to put in and it comes back.”

In recent years, his company, H. Dean Properties has brought new businesses into the north end of the shopping plaza.

Moe’s Southwest Grill, Williamsport T Mobile and Williamsport Dental and Dentures are among those newest tenants.

Ichobon restaurant has undergone a major renovation and new 10,000-square foot building is going up behind Moe’s, the former site of Empire Beauty School.

“We don’t have a tenant yet,” Dean said. “I would hope to get a nice big retail store. That would be my druthers. I don’t need another restaurant.”

Dean is fully aware that shopping malls and big box retailers are in trouble, but he’s confident that he’ll do fine with his businesses.

The T.J. Maxx Plaza, he said, is a fine example of what can work.

“We’re doing well. It’s a lot of luck. It’s a lot of patience,” he said. “We happen to have the best retailer out there. T.J. Maxx (store).”

With its diversity of special products, customers simply flock to the store, including the one in the plaza sharing its name.

He said it’s just very fortunate that he has T.J. Maxx as a tenant.

“This is one of the best stores in the country,” he said.

Other stores such as PetSmart are doing well.

Dean said his attention to detail and communicating with tenants in the shopping center are a key to its success.

“You got to keep your stores up to date. They have to be maintained,” he said.

Dean said he’s made a special effort to keep the entire plaza attractive for customers, including having flowers planted throughout the shopping center.

“We just try to keep it as beautiful as possible,” he said. “Of course, it makes a difference.”

The plaza will soon see its parking lot lighting switched over to LED, resulting in cost savings over time.

Dean, whose business holdings can be found in upstate New York and other parts of the nation, admitted there continue to be challenges.

He noted that he has four storefronts in the T.J. Maxx Plaza he’d like to fill.

He said he’s looking forward to a good shopping season over the next few weeks.