Highlands’ Tenants See Optimistic Future


Staff Writer

WHEELING — Tenants at The Highlands in Ohio County already see increased business from Pennsylvania customers, and they predict future development there will attract more people from the tri-state region.

Businesses in the West Liberty University Highlands Center building weathered through the construction of a hotel and an events center near their entrances within the last 18 months. Visitors to the hotel, as well as those coming to meetings at the event center, now are finding their way to their doors and spending money, they report.

Now more dust is set to fly on that end of the complex as construction on both a Menards home improvement store and a sports complex are slated to start this spring.

“We have been very busy,” said Howard Posin, owner of Howard’s Diamond Center. “Now we’re just waiting on Menards.”

Posin and his son, Seth, said the strong customer base they had while located in downtown Wheeling followed them when they moved to The Highlands, but now they are seeing more customers from Pittsburgh and Washington County, Pa., coming to the store.

“Before, we relied largely on people who worked downtown,” Seth Posin said. “Now we’re a destination location.”

Having unique products helps, they said. They noted today’s jewelry buyers no longer want small diamonds. Most shoppers are seeking big ones — and they can be found at Howard’s Diamond Center.

“It also helps to carry things that are unusual and different from what’s in other stores,” Seth said.

As an example, Howard’s sells a line of bracelet beads depicting iconic Wheeling symbols — such as the Sweeney Punch Bowl, the Hancher Clock, and Monument Place. These have proven to be very popular, according to Seth Posin.

Nini’s Treasures is now located in a building adjacent to the Fairfield Inn & Suites.

“When they let us know when they have an event, we can be prepared,” said owner Nini Zadrozny.

She said recently the Democrat Women of West Virginia held a conference at the events center and stayed at the hotel. Nini’s provided them each a pen and gift certificates in the “goody bags” they received from organizers, and this provided them an incentive to walk to the business next door.

During their breaks, business was brisk at Nini’s, according to Zadrozny. The participants took a look at the Vera Wang bags and the Brighton accessories she sells.

But while these shoppers may only stop once a year, the core of the business remains those living locally, she said.

“My people have followed me for 23 years,” she said. “I still have the locals, and everybody else along the way is a bonus. … But my No. 1 customer is the Ohio Valley. It’s important for shoppers to support local businesses, and we thank the Ohio Valley for supporting us.”

In addition to small specialty shops such as Howard’s and Nini’s, The Highlands is home to some much larger retailers. National department store chains such as J.C. Penney, Target, Walmart and Kohl’s have stores at the site. Cabela’s is a featured attraction that draws more men to the complex to shop for outdoor gear. And there are plenty of fashion retailers — including Old Navy, Lane Bryant, Dress Barn and others — there as well.

And shoppers at The Highlands need not go home hungry. The site is home to a number of restaurants featuring a wide variety of cuisine, ranging from hamburgers to steaks, sushi, ice cream, Italian fare and fast food.


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