Walmart sits high on the hill in Newberry Township, overlooking Jay Helsel's J&W Hardware like a retail Goliath ready to lower the boom on the tiny store below.
Yet a different symbolism applies here, one epitomized by the aphorism "A rising tide lifts all boats."
After Walmart opened its doors one year ago in May, a strange thing happened: J&W started moving more merchandise.
Helsel was certainly surprised. But 11 months later, he realizes the trickle-down effect Walmart provided.
"At first, I was worried about it, but once they came and I saw the sales going up, I saw it as a good thing," he said.
The shopping center known as Newberry Pointe has transformed Exit 33 from a sleepy outpost on the way to somewhere else to a destination point for thousands of shoppers daily.
They come from Etters to York Haven; from Wellsville to Mount Wolf. Doris Bennett, 78, of Etters, used to travel to Walmart in Silver Spring Township, Cumberland County.
"With the price of gas, it's a big plus" to shop a little closer to home, she said during a recent trip to Newberry Pointe. "It's convenient, and the prices are a little lower than other places."
Walmart anchors the center, which is fronted by a Rite Aid. A strip mall behind the drug store is home to a pizza shop, a hair salon, a Chinese restaurant and several other stores.
Rick Rheinish, 65, of York Haven makes the run to Newberry Pointe a couple times a week. It's more convenient than driving to Manchester Township for groceries, which he and his wife did for several years.
"It was time for something like this to come here," he said. "You can get everything in one place. And it's made the whole area more habitable."
Tiffanie Galloway of Etters picks out corn at Walmart off Exit 33 in Newberry Township. The store is a modern Walmart with brighter colors and wood and faux stone designs. (DAILY RECORD / SUNDAY NEWS - KATE PENN)
Kenneth F. Helstrom of LDI Associates in Mechanicsburg, gave the first hint that change was coming to the Yocumtown exit in 2005 when he purchased a 30-acre tract along Interstate 83. According to county records, Dolores A. Juris sold the property to Helstrom for $1 million.
The tract was once the home of Park Away Camp Ground. LDI later purchased about 10 homes adjacent to the site, bringing the total acreage to about 40. It would become the future home of Newberry Pointe.
Helstrom was gambling that the zoning might change, under the township's new comprehensive plan, from commercial recreation to regional commercial. The new zoning permits more commercial options, such as banks, hotels and restaurants. Shopping centers are permitted with conditional-use approval.
Supervisors later made that zoning change when the plan was adopted in July 2006.
"The township was struggling to get businesses in and one of the things that was holding it back was the zoning," said township supervisor Carl Hughes.
Helstrom sold all of the land to Newberry Investment Partners - which included Koch Development Co. and Pacific Development Co. - in 2007 for $7.9 million.
There are a lot of obvious positives to the Newberry Pointe site, said Matthew Stack, executive vice president of Koch. The location is terrific. The traffic is enviable. The potential market is bullish.
"You can see it quite prominently from the highway," Stack said. "And once you're on the exit ramp, you have no other place to go except to head into the shopping center."
Shoppers come and go from Walmart off Exit 33 in Newberry Township. The store opened one year ago with a $15,000 donation to various area charities. (DAILY RECORD / SUNDAY NEWS - KATE PENN)
More importantly, while large-scale shopping center plans frequently draw community opposition, this one didn't. Being right off the exit meant that most traffic would never venture far into the township or into residential areas. The campground was a somewhat unsightly place, Helsel said, and there were no environmental concerns.
The economy, however, is a bit of a downer. Just as the developers got the $35 million project off the ground, the recession hit hard.
"Things have been a challenge during the recession," Stack said.
The site has continued to lease space despite the recession, but he said full occupancy is taking longer to achieve.
'Where do you go?'
The retail market opened up in Newberry Township after Superfresh grocery store closed in January 2010. Without the store, which had been in the nearby Newberry Commons, area residents had to travel 10 to 15 miles for groceries.
"Where do you go?" Hughes said. "It was a hardship. You don't want to travel any more than you have to."
When plans for Newberry Pointe reached township officials, they favored the idea. It would bring more shopping options to residents and create jobs in a place that would be easy to access.
Danielle Riebling of Newberrytown pushes a cart with her son, 11-month-old Wesley Sunderland, as she shops at Walmart in Newberry Township. (DAILY RECORD / SUNDAY NEWS - KATE PENN)
"This is conveniently at an exit. That really makes a big difference," Hughes said. "That's one thing I stress - that the people who visit that Walmart don't have to drive through our township."
Traffic leads to congestion, he said, which leads to costly improvements like traffic signals and turning lanes.
Supervisor Maxine Kauffman joined the board in January, long after decisions concerning Newberry Pointe were made. But she is a customer who doesn't miss driving to Springettsbury Township to shop.
"Everybody that I know seems to be glad that it's there and I must say I'm one of those people," she said. "I think they did a good job with planning the road and the traffic in there. I see no traffic concerns at all. They did a good design."
Walmart cashier Brittany Bennett chats with fellow employee Wilson J. Horton Jr. Walmart officials say the store created about 275 jobs. (DAILY RECORD / SUNDAY NEWS - KATE PENN)
By the numbers
Newberry Pointe is a project by Koch Development Co. of St. Louis. The company provides these shopping center factoids at www.newberrypointe.com:
44.65: Site acreage
1,087: Parking spaces
275: Jobs created by Walmart
$15,000: Amount donated by Walmart to area nonprofits
150,000: Square footage of Walmart, the anchor store
New store coming
Advance Auto Parts will soon open a store on one of the four outparcels owned by Koch Development Co. of St. Louis, said Matthew Stack, executive vice president of Koch.
Koch owns the entire site, except for Walmart and Rite Aid. About 70 percent of the 43,000 square feet of strip-mall space is rented, Stack said.
Pacific Development Co. of St. Louis moved more than 600,000 yards of dirt - roughly the size of 6,000 football fields - to make way for Newberry Pointe.
"They basically took the top off the mountain," said Mike Helsel, owner of J&W Hardware.
Pacific, hired by Koch Development Co. to develop the site, widened Old Trail Road in both northbound and southbound directions in the area of the shopping center. Also, Newberry Pointe includes a new road that connects Old Trail Road and Pleasant View Drive.
Per their agreement with Newberry Township, the developers installed traffic signals and a 110-foot-tall water tower that serves the center as well as the surrounding community, Stack said.
The only thing Helsel is unhappy about is the condition of Old Trail Road a bit farther down the hill. Once you travel beyond the widened-and-paved section of the road, it is in rough shape, he said.
A pair of small bridges on Old Trail Road are "falling apart," Helsel said, and the increased traffic isn't helping.
Matthew Stack, executive vice president of Koch Development, declined comment, citing an unfamiliarity with the roads. The St. Louis-based Koch is a partner in the project.
More about the Exit Interviews series
Thousands of people drive on Interstate 83 every day. The highway can be a quick way to get from point A to point B. Or a crash can lead to backlogs that leave motorists stranded for hours.
Either way, the interstate isn't made for Sunday drives or sight-seeing.
But what are people missing as they zoom through York County from the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the north to the Mason-Dixon line in the south?
Join the York Daily Record/Sunday News features staff as we explore what's beyond the off-ramps of the highway that stretches through our county.
In this ongoing "Exit Interviews" series, we will highlight the people and places within a mile off those exits.
You'll learn unique information about each exit, including what township it's in, its old exit number, traffic stats and construction updates.
Each story will be accompanied by photos and videos. An online component featuring an interactive map with all of the information will be available at ydr.com.
The stories will be available as a resource long after the series - which will look at 20-plus exits along the highway - ends.
We hope you'll discover a new favorite restaurant, a unique spot to take out-of-town visitors or a reason to get back on the highway for a quick weekend day trip.
So buckle up and join us for this journey. And be sure to tell us how we're doing. We'd love to get your feedback and hear story suggestions off the beaten path of your favorite exit.
Send an email to niche publications editor Kara Eberle at email@example.com or call 717-771-2030.
Austin Michelsen, 4, left, and Chase Michelsen, 2, shop for garden plants with their mother Tracey Michelsen at Walmart in Newberry Township. (DAILY RECORD / SUNDAY NEWS - KATE PENN)