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BENNINGTON — Ocean State Job Lot is renovating the former J.C. Penney building here with plans to open a new store in April.

“It is under construction, and if all goes well we will open on April 8,” said Mark Swiderski, project manager for the multi-state chain, which now has 143 stores.

In advance of the opening date, the company is expected to post signs at the Bennington Square Shopping Center informing people how to apply for jobs.

A typical store in the Rhode Island-based chain has about 30 full and part-time employees, he said.

The nearest store to Bennington was created in a 46,000-square-foot former North Adams, Mass., Walmart building and opened in 2013.

“Ocean State Job Lot is pleased to confirm that we’re on track to open our third store in Vermont this spring,” Paul Cox, director of store operations for the company, said in an email. “We’re looking forward to creating new jobs when many are currently in need of work and are excited to provide great values and Crazy Deals on brand name and close-out products to the people of Bennington.”

FORMER PENNEY’S

The former Penney’s store, which closed in 2020, has 38,970 square feet of retail space, according to information included in construction permit applications to the town, said Director of Facilities and Building Inspector Paul Dansereau.

Ocean State purchased the Bennington Square center off Kocher Drive at a foreclosure auction in March 2020.

The center is on about 24 acres and includes about 150,000 square feet of space in existing buildings and addition space for new construction.

The renovation work in Bennington is being done by Arcadia Construction, of Leominster, Mass., which was the low bidder, Swiderski said, adding that the company has worked for Ocean State on several other store projects.

The new store could boost shopper traffic to the Bennington center, following several years of closings.

The former Kmart, which closed in 2018, was the largest tenant, with around 55,000 square feet.

Staples, Olympia Sports, Label Shopper and People’s United Bank remain as tenants, while former Radio Shack, Maurices, Burger King, Payless Shoes and Hallmark Gifts stores have departed.

Ocean State “is growing exponentially,” Swiderski said, and has stores throughout New England; in New Jersey and New York, and more recently in Pennsylvania. The company opened its first location in North Kingstown, R.I., in 1977.

There are about 5,000 employees in total.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont. Email jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com

Reporter/editor

Jim Therrien reports for the three NENI newspapers in Southern Vermont. He previously worked as a reporter and editor at the Berkshire Eagle, the Bennington Banner, the Springfield (Mass.) Republican and the former North Adams Transcript.


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