Local Businesses Hold Their Own
When Foundry Row is up and running in 2016, an LA Fitness will be next door to Lynne Brick’s and only a few miles from Brick Bodies and Planet Fitness, all three owned or franchised by the same local company.
But Lynne Brick, president and founder of the female-only Lynne Brick’s and coed Brick Bodies and operator of local Planet Fitness gyms, isn’t worried about another national fitness chain coming to the Owings Mills area.
“We’re a hometown business, locally grown,” Brick said. “We’ve been at it for 30 years now, and I think a lot of people in the community know our name.”
Other business owners share Brick’s sentiment and even look forward to the new center being built at the former site of the Solo Cup factory and the increase in traffic they expect to bolster interest in the area.
“We know what we’re doing here. We’re established here,” said Larry Lawrence, a manager at Beauty Supply in the Painters Mill Shopping Center. “If there’s more traffic, it’s better for business.”
In June, Foundry Row developer Greenberg Gibbons announced future tenants LA Fitness, Sports Authority, DSW, cosmetic shop Ulta, Panera Bread, fast-casual Mediterranean eatery Zoe’s Kitchen, cook-to-order Smashburger and build-your-own eatery Nalley Fresh. These businesses will join Wegmans, the anchor of the center with a 130,000-square-foot store.
If past projects are any indication, Brick and Lawrence may be accurate in their assertions, said Jesse Tron, spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers.
“In most areas, there’s a large shopping complex with a collection of national brands and there’s typically a Main Street with local retail, local mom-and-pop shops,” he said. “Typically there is a coexistence there. Different retail formats serve different purposes for different consumer wants and desires.”
Tron added that projects such as Foundry Row often bring people to the area, who then find local retailers that don’t necessarily have the marketing dollars to reach potential customers.
“This is giving us an opportunity to keep people here,” said Colleen Brady, president of the Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Chamber of Commerce, noting that people often travel to Towson or Hunt Valley for some of the same stores that will open at Foundry Row. “It’s a good way for us to look around and see what is in our backyard.”
Those backyard businesses may have an advantage over national chains, Brick theorized, by having visible owners who are often invested in the community. Her company, for example, is involved with the Reisterstown Festival and supports local 5K runs and community groups, and the owners can be spotted at the gyms, talking to customers and doling out workout advice.
“I’m not sure a big chain is going to be capable of doing that,” she said.
Ray Hinish, who owns the building that houses the Flying Avocado Café, Expert Nutrition Center and Admiral FITT Personal Training on South Dolfield Road, welcomes the competition.
“I think there are plenty of hungry people to go around,” he said. “A little competition never hurts, it only helps you become better.”
He believes the smallness of the business also helps, as some people are turned off by chain establishments.
For others, the coming of Foundry Row is an opportunity to look toward the future. Jessica Normington, executive director at the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is discussing updating its strategic plan, which is about 10 years old. The plan would look at the chamber’s vision and goals, its board structure, bylaws and what businesses the chamber would like to attract to the area.
“Right now, we don’t know how it’s going to impact [the area],” she said. “We could see a whole transformation that could trickle down to Pikesville.”