Rethinking “Big Box” Spaces In A Digital World

By Josh Ellerbrock
The Lima News, Ohio

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As columnist Josh Ellerbrock reports, “a few local entrepreneurs have found ways to adapt a few of these properties into new retail and service experiences. Big box retail may have taken a few hits, but that doesn’t mean the region has to suffer the consequences.”

LIMA

The empty Home Depot building on Cable Road has been closed longer than it was open.

The national construction retail chain built its 95,000-square-foot facility in five months in 2002, but by 2008, a lackluster $11 million in annual sales and heavy competition from Lowe’s and Menards forced corporate to close the doors. They’ve remained closed since.

For a decade, the building has sat unused and largely ignored. Today, weeds break up the cement parking lot, forcing cracks and creating what looks like a set from a post-apocalyptic movie.

Big-box retail isn’t what it used to be.

Due to enhanced competition from online sales, the retail experience from the 20th century has struggled in the 21st, and the region has a new challenge in utilizing the blighted properties left over from major chains who couldn’t make it in the tight market.

While plenty of empty storefronts remain, a few local entrepreneurs have found ways to adapt a few of these properties into new retail and service experiences. Big box retail may have taken a few hits, but that doesn’t mean the region has to suffer the consequences.

St. Marys KMart/American Manufacturing Solutions
While most big-box retailers tend to build new facilities in order to tweak their brand experience, other businesses are more concerned about size. Case in point: American Manufacturing Solutions in St. Marys.

When KMart left their building, American Manufacturing Solutions President Jason Clark saw an opportunity in the 58,000-square-foot building. When Clark was scouting out the facility with business partner Andy Sloane, the City of St. Marys had actually been making plans to demolish the building and set up an industrial zone.

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