New store proposed for Bennington Square center

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BENNINGTON — The owners of the Bennington Square Shopping Center off Kocher Drive said Monday they plan to locate an Ocean State Job Lots store there next year.

The company is not ready to make an official announcement, said Evan Portno, director of store development, but that is expected in 2021, along with advertisements about employment opportunities.

Portno said it remains unclear which location in the largely vacant 150,000 square foot center is being eyed for an Ocean State Job Lots store. The former Kmart store, with 55,552-square feet of space, and the 38,720-square-foot JC Penney's store, which is in the last weeks of a closing sale, would be available, he said.

The average size Job Lots store is around 35,000 square feet, he said, but one in nearby North Adams, Mass., is 47,000 square feet — one of the largest in the chain.

"We will do a press release when we begin to hire," Portno said.

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He said the owners also are looking for other tenants for the shopping center, which last week also lost a Burger King restaurant that had been there for 40 years.

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Parties interested in space in the center should contact the company via email, he said, at

Meanwhile, officials at Burger King's headquarters in Florida could not be reached last week concerning a rumor the company might consider another site in Bennington. The chain's parent company, Restaurant Brands International, has announced it will close more than 200 Burger Kings considered to be underperforming.

Several vacancies

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In addition to the Penney's store, which is expected to close next month, and the Kmart, which closed in 2018, the center has lost a Hallmark Gifts shop, Payless Shoe Source, Maurice's, and a Radio Shack store over the past few years.

Still located in the center are a 23,526-square-foot Staples store; Olympia Sports, Label Shopper, and a People's United Bank branch.

The shopping center was sold at auction in February to Portno and Mark O'Connor of Ocean State Job Lots for $750,000. It is located on 24 acres south of Kocher Drive and east of Route 7.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont, including the Bennington Banner, Brattleboro Reformer and Manchester Journal. Twitter: @BB_therrien


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