If approved, the project at MacDade Boulevard and Morton Avenue would be part of a 270,000-square-foot retail shopping complex that already includes a 66,993-square-foot Acme Market, the largest ever built. The complex also would consist of a Blockbuster Video outlet and possibly a national office supply retailer, among other stores, Harper said. The Home Depot store would include a 16,151-square-foot garden center, he said.
Most retailers took this prospect of ``big box'' retailing in stride yesterday. Retailers in nearby Ridley Park's quaint shopping district were upbeat, saying they hoped they would benefit from increased traffic in the area. The owner of a small hardware store admitted feeling concern but said she believed personal service would save her.
``I've got coffee and candy and pretzels up front,'' said Janice Guzzetti, owner of Hill's Hardware on MacDade Boulevard in the Folsom section of the township. ``Do they?''
County Planning Director John E. Pickett said he was concerned by the plan for another Home Depot store in the county because of the potential for forcing out smaller hardware stores. But he added that a developer's recently announced plans to open a Wal-Mart store in Eddystone are more ominous because the discount store could put more types of stores out of business.
The move of ``big box'' retailers to the southern end of the county reflects a national retailing trend toward shopping centers rather than small downtown shopping districts, Pickett said.
``I don't know if you can stop it,'' he said. ``They have prices and selection that the smaller guys really can't have.''
Guzzetti wondered why the Atlanta-based Home Depot wanted to open a store so close to the 135,000-square-foot store on Baltimore Pike. ``Isn't there something that says they can't be in such close proximity to each other?'' she asked.
Company spokesman Don Harrison explained that some of the chain's 810 stores nationwide get so busy that they're overwhelmed. When that happens, the company looks for sites to serve the overflow, he said. Harrison said the new store would provide about 150 jobs.
There are also three Home Depots stores in Philadelphia and one each in Plymouth Meeting, Lansdale, Willow Grove and King of Prussia.
Harper retailers only recently realized that Baltimore Pike was getting overcrowded and started looking elsewhere. They also began recognizing the benefits of the southern end of the county's proximity to Interstate 95 and the Blue Route.