Developer and former champion drag racer Joe Amato has made great strides turning around the East End Centre.
When he purchased the shopping center three years ago for $3 million from WP Realty, 70 percent of it was vacant and it had three empty anchor locations. Now, 70 percent is occupied, he said, and he has filled the long-vacant Phar-Mor building with a Sears Outlet store.
The latest new business, Allure Salon Group, just opened in the shopping center next to Happy Nails and Edible Arrangements.
The salon is unique in the area because it includes a combination of suites in one location, a concept that is popular in other parts of the United States. In California and Ohio, 90 percent of salon businesses have multiple suites, Karen Kaminski of Moscow, a sales representative in the beauty industry and the landlord of the 4,480-square-foot building, said.
Allure Salon Group includes 11 single suites, three double suites and a professional classroom for educational events. Two of the suites are rented, Kaminski said. Hair stylists, aestheticians, makeup artists and massage therapists can lease the remaining suites. Allure Salon Group will provide fully-equipped salons along with support and tools people need to launch their own business inexpensively, she said.
“Each one is its own entity. Each salon has to have its own salon license,” Kaminski said. “It’s not booth rentals.”
The concept allows salon businesses to earn more income because their rent covers expenses, except products, she said.
“The earning potential is substantial because now they are not splitting that commission with a salon owner,” she said. “You are putting more of that in your pocket.”
It is “really a big deal all over the country” and Amato wanted to bring that here, he said.
Amato talked to his property manager, Liana Kissinger, about it. Kaminski wanted to do it and it came together, he said.
A number of other spaces in the East End Centre also have been filled.
Earlier this year, Harvest Buffet replaced the closed Old Country Buffet. Some of the workers who lost their jobs when Old Country Buffet closed last year were rehired.
Joe Nardone Jr., who co-owns Gallery of Sound stores with his father, opened Rockology Music Academy in the center to fill a need for music education.
Discount fashion retailer Gabe’s moved into the building that formerly housed Price Chopper.
KISS Children’s Theatre occupies a portion of the building that formerly housed Beiter’s, and Amato said he has been talking to potential tenants interested in the remaining 70,000 square feet of space.
“We think within the next three to six months, we’ll have someone landed hopefully,” Amato said. “We fill that and we’re up to 90 percent.”
In addition to the East End Centre, Amato also owns the Gateway Shopping Center in Edwardsville, City Centre in Wilkes-Barre and the West End Plaza in Brodheadsville. He plans to buy another shopping center in Bloomsburg.