By: John Knight
Does Wards Corner feel a little different to you? It feels that way to me. When I first shopped at Wards Corner eight years ago, I sensed there was something special about this place. One year later, I made one of the biggest decisions of my life by opening a business here. The potential was enormous, in location and demographics. Wards Corner was the “Times Square of the South”, the busiest intersection in Norfolk, with over 60,000 cars passing through each day. I saw blacks, whites, asians, hispanics and every color of the rainbow walking around here. The customers ranged from the destitute to the well-healed. Multi-BILLION DOLLAR Dollar Tree started right here. What a golden opportunity!
So, I opened The Book Exchange. Within a month in my shopping center, Lillian Vernon was gone. Soon Coffease closed, then Uncle Louie’s, then Foot Locker, then a couple beauty salons, then Steckroth’s, then Simply Fashions. Then the vandals struck. Then a lack of building maintenance led to peeling paint and frequent floods from above and below. Well, the good news was that we had plenty of parking…
Luckily my overhead is low and my faith is strong. We have always been blessed with good customers and staff. And lately, it seems that those were the proverbial low points.
Take a look at Wards Corner NOW! The TIDE of trash has been picked up one piece at a time by people like Laura Thom, who has organized a multitude of cleanups. Now, Wards Corner businesses are expanding, while others are moving in for their shot at the American Dream- mind you, in a time when most shopping centers are suffering the effects of the “Great Recession”.
If you have not been to Wards Corner in the past couple months, come see a few of the changes: AJ Gators has a beautiful new location in the old Wherehouse Music store, ATC Fitness did an amazing remodel job on the old Lillian Vernon store and opened in record time. Our landlord sanded and painted our light poles. As I pulled out of our parking lot today, I noticed a new cell phone store across the street. What will tomorrow bring? I’m thinking positively. So, if you have an idea for a business in one of the few vacant spots that are left in Wards Corner, consider acting NOW! Try to visual what the founders of Dollar Tree saw here. I GUARANTEE you, Wards Corner is still a goldmine!!!