The empty grounds of Hechinger finally have a new tenant. After three years, Kohl's is moving in, providing the shopping center with an anchor store, attracting potential clientele and giving Burke shoppers a clothing and apparel option besides traveling to Springfield, Fairfax or Centreville.
Over at Beau Totale salon, a few doors down from the new store, Susan Iachruso is glad to have a new neighbor.
"I'm excited just to have an anchor store back in the center. Anything new has an attraction to it," she said.
Iachruso wasn't happy about the time it took, though.
"From a merchant's perspective, you need an anchor store to draw people in. Three years is totally unacceptable," she said.
At BC Comics next door, Dennis Waller likes the anchor, too. It means potential customers for his store as well, he thinks.
"It will help the shopping center, having an anchor store. I expect a lot of moms to go in there, which means the kids will be in here," he said.
"It definitely increases the foot traffic," he said.
At Supervisor Sharon Bulova's (D-Braddock) office, chief of staff Florence Naeve looked at the economic aspects as well, including job openings.
"It certainly should help people economically; an anchor should help that shopping center. The individual merchants can't afford to advertise the way a big store does," she said.
The Burke store is the 14th Kohl's in Virginia. The store is 87,000 square feet, employs a total of 145 people and is scheduled to open in October 2002, according to Kohl's spokesperson, Susan Henderson.
"We do not have a specific date for that," Henderson said.
TONY HOWARD of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce looked at the success of Kohl's over in the Kingstowne area and the symbiotic relationship a big-box store like that has with the surrounding stores.
"They've been in this market for a number of years. It creates a high level of awareness among customers," he said.
Everyone didn't agree that Burke needed Kohl's, though. Laura Howell grew up in Burke and was a Robinson Secondary School Class of 2000 alumna. Hechinger was part of her adolescence.
"I don't think it [Kohl's] would benefit the area as much as a home-improvement place. Hechinger was the store, Saturday mornings you went with dad. You knew you had your work set out for you on Saturday," she said.
Nancy Wilkinson of Five Star Jewelers remembered a survey that was passed around that reflected the need for a hardware store. She liked the new neighbor, nonetheless.
"We're just happy there's an anchor store here. Overall, I think it will be good," she said.
RR Nicholson owns a plumbing business.
"Every time I need something, I have to travel. I like Hechinger but I do like Kohl's," he said.
Naeve said Lowe’s and Home Depot looked at the spot in the past.
"Neither felt the space was large enough," she said.
Kohl's was founded by the Kohl family in Milwaukee, Wisc., in 1962.