Town & Country history stretches back to 1950: What to know about the Kettering shopping center

The Town & County Shopping Center attracted shoppers from surrounding areas decades before construction of the Dayton Mall, The Mall at Fairfield Commons, The Greene and Austin Landing.

After withstanding the test of time — including recessions, big-box discount retailers, even fires — more than 70 years later, it’s still in business.

Town & County Shopping Center was in the news recently after an announcement that Ross Dress for Less clothing and home décor store has opened, filling the former Stein Mart corner anchor space.

Here are some things to know about the popular shopping destination:

Where is the Town and Country shopping center?

The shopping center is located at 100-424 E. Stroop Road, between cross streets Far Hills Avenue and Shroyer Road in Kettering.

Who owns Town and Country?

The shopping center is co-owned by CASTO and Skilken Gold.

The developers go back to the very beginning, when Don M Casto Sr. and Morris Skilken were partners.

Town & Country is a small slice of CASTO’s business. It leases more than 26 million square feet of commercial space on nearly 100 properties in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina, according to the company’s website.

Skilken Gold manages three other retail centers, including Westown and Eastown Shopping Centers in Dayton.

How it started

The groundbreaking for Town & Country Shopping Center was held on Aug. 15, 1950. It officially opened in October of 1951.

It was the first retail shopping center in the area outside of downtown Dayton. It was the first shopping center to have illuminated signs and the second in the nation with illuminated parking, allowing customers to shop at night.

The first anchor was a J.C. Penney department store. Clothing store Metropolitan Co., originally located at Fourth and Ludlow downtown, also announced they would open a 26,000-square-foot store in the new center.

Other original tenants in the west section included Albers supermarket, Gray Drugs, Moore’s Auto Accessories, Mendenhall Dry Cleaners, Andrews Bakery, Jerima Engraving Co., Leo Draperies, Malone Camera Shop, Town & Country Appliances and Collier’s Shoes.

In the east section there was a Kresge store (later Kmart), Schiff Shoes, a Kroger supermarket, Schumacher Furniture, Fitch Fish and Poultry, Seitz Hardware and seven other specialty stores.

Through the years

In 1959, the Miami Valley’s first deluxe state liquor store opened in the shopping center. During the 1960s additional buildings lured more new retailers to Town & Country.

In 1966, Kroger and Gray Drugs went through major remodeling projects.

Throughout the 1970s the center received some upgrades and facelifts. In 1976 it added an enclosed, climate-controlled fashion mall.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

The 1980s brought reductions in store sizes, consolidations and increased competition from stores trying to lure customers away from newer developments. In 1985 the former Metropolitan Clothing Co. was divided up into 20 shops.

Disaster struck on Oct. 3, 1987 when a five-alarm fire destroyed four shops and damaged others. Losses exceeded $1 million.

By 1988 many of the damaged stores had reopened and the center had grown to 75 stores. In 1989 Kroger announced it would be leaving the center.

In 2015 the city of Kettering completed an extensive beautification project around the shopping center. In 2016 changes were made to the shopping center’s interior, its facade and the parking lot layout.

What is there now?

Town & Country lists 34 tenants on its website.

Key tenants include Trader Joe’s, Panera, Chick-fil-a, T.J. Maxx, Figlio, Bath and Body Works, Petco, Buffalo Wild Wings, Tuesday Morning and 2nd & Charles.

Credit: Dana Zechar

Credit: Dana Zechar

What is coming in the future?

Town & Country is “amassing a large, contiguous blank canvas of available space” and has “other exciting tenants in the works,” according to Senior Asset Manager and Broker Kelly Casto.

More space will be available near the Ross site, as Bath & Body Works is expanding at a new site in the middle of the center. Bath & Body Works will occupy about 58% more space with the move, going from 2,000 to 3,400 square feet.

About the Author