Beauty store smashed by tornado to reopen, breathe life into community anchor

Pandora Beauty Supply is renovating the closed Kroger on Needmore, connecting with former customers

A Harrison Twp. business crushed by the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes will celebrate an emotional reopening in January after more than a three-year wait.

Pandora Beauty Supply’s relaunch also will help energize a key anchor of a hard-hit community. The business’ new home will be the former Needmore Road Kroger store, which closed in late 2019 and has been bought by Pandora’s owners for $1.4 million.

Jean Luckett, a spokesperson for Pandora Beauty Supply and daughter of owners Sang and Young Joo, said the Dayton community has fueled the family’s efforts to rebuild and reopen the business.

“When the tornado happened, you’d think everyone would be devastated, and of course they were, but even just hours later, everyone was out there helping each other, trying to salvage what they could,” Luckett said. “People who’ve never even met before spoke like they’ve known each other their whole lives.”

Pandora Beauty Supply opened in 2016 and was operating successfully at 3902 N. Dixie Drive in the Northridge area. But the May 2019 tornadoes delivered a direct hit to the shopping center that housed their business and about a dozen others.

The walls collapsed in multiple parts of the shopping center. The whole development was demolished and three years later is still an empty concrete slab across from Ridge Avenue. Many of the businesses went silent.

Almost a year and a half after the tornado, Pandora owners were posting on social media that they were looking for a new location and wanted to stay in the Dayton area to serve their loyal customer base.

“We were looking for about a year, trying to find a new spot we really loved,” Luckett said. “We really loved the area we were in, but it took a long time for (the community) to rebuild. That’s when we found the Kroger that had been vacant for awhile.”

The new store site is a little over a mile north from the old Pandora Beauty Supply. The former Kroger was built in 1983, Harrison Twp. officials say. After closing in 2019, it was originally on the market for $2.1 million before being purchased by Pandora Beauty Supply LLC in October of this year in a $1.4 million deal.

The former Kroger’s transition to Pandora Beauty Supply won’t involve much alteration to the exterior, at least at first, Luckett said, instead focusing on updating the store’s interior. She said the new 62,000-square-foot shop will provide more than double the space of Pandora’s original location, allowing the business to come back strong.

Pandora Beauty Supply specializes in “anything related to beauty,” Luckett said. The store offers a variety of items like cosmetic hair products, makeup and accessories.

“We like to pride ourselves in being a little bit different because ... we like to take our time to talk to the customers and get to know our community in the Dayton area,” she said. “We want to build a family customer base rather than one that’s just consumer focused.”

The name Pandora was Luckett’s father’s idea, she said. Many know the Greek mythology story of Pandora’s box opening and releasing destructive forces — not unlike the tornado in 2019. But Luckett said her father liked a lesser-known part of the story, with its emphasis on feelings of hope. After the lid on Pandora’s box was replaced, only hope remained inside.

“Many people don’t think about makeup, dressing up or enhancing your beauty as something that’s important, but it is for a lot of people and it gives them a source of hope,” Luckett said.

In recent weeks, the store’s owners have been connecting with former customers on Facebook, posting photos of the site work, and asking them what they want the store to stock as they come back “bigger than ever.”

“We have to make up for the lost time,” Luckett said.

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