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Norwin Towne Square on brink of rejuvenation

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Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

Growing up in the area, Norwin Shopping Center — as it was called in those days — was THE shopping center, way before we had Hills and Ames — gone and gone, obviously.

The shopping center meant fancy-lady clothes at Cox's — along with some birds and fish, which I never quite understood — and two grocery stores, with a variety of names such as A&P, Thoroughfare, Shop ‘n Save and Foodland throughout the years, and the sweet smells from string-tied boxes from Marilyn's Bakery, and the oddities at the This N That shop.

It meant the branch of the public library up in the corner near where the MedExpress sits now and if you needed paint or nails or just about anything else for your house, you could visit Action Hardware well before the days of Home Depot and who could forget Isaly's?

It meant spending time perusing vinyl at the Record Shop way back before Amazon and downloadable music. It meant Woolworth' and maybe using the little post-office window at the back corner of the store to buy stamps. And I think my graduation dress might have come from Fashion Hub.

Many a Saturday morning for me was lunch with my family at SenSim, way back in the arcade, and then walking to the branch library to get books and back in time to walk to the car after grocery shopping was done. There were parades through the shopping center back then, for Halloween and homecoming. Even Santa parachuted in at least once that I can remember, and there always was something happening with promotions and specials, sidewalk sales. Yes, I still shop there on occasion, but it isn't the same.

Over the years, the plaza has suffered from vacant storefronts. A few die-hard stores remained, but with a parking lot full of holes. Now it sits on the precipice of rejuvenation. Built in 1959 and remodeled in 1969, somewhere along the line it became known as Norwin Towne Square.

But it's still the shopping center to me!

Yes, it will change shape as new businesses are added and the design of it is reconfigured. And some folks will fuss about how different it is. But I'm just happy it's getting a new lease on life. Welcome back, old friend.

Barbara Flynn is the children's librarian at Norwin Public Library.

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