LAKEMORE: The aging Tri-County Plaza has landed national retailer Tractor Supply Co.



The Tennessee-headquartered chain of farm supply stores plans to open in vacant space in the 53-year-old plaza anchored by J.C. Penney and Jo-Ann Fabrics.



The Tractor Supply store is tentatively set to open Feb. 16 in the far north end of the 1500 Canton Road shopping center.



Dave Kaisk, co-owner of Knudson Jewelers — a 30-plus year tenant of the plaza — is happy one of the several vacant spaces is being filled.



“Anything like that is always positive, especially when it’s a national company like that,” he said.



The space — formerly occupied by a Bi-Rite grocery — has been vacant for several years, he noted.



Kaisk envisions Tractor Supply helping him to attract customers. “The ladies may come in and browse us,” while the men are shopping at Tractor Supply, he said.



Tractor Supply (Nasdaq: TSCO), with more than 1,150 stores in 45 states, caters to hobby farmers, as well as do-it-yourself homeowners and pet owners. The Lakemore store joins several others in the Akron-Canton area.



Stores offer animal supplies, feed, fencing, lawn and garden items; mowers, tools, welding and pump supplies, and more.



But shoppers won’t find tractors, except for toy ones.



Rob Hoskins, spokesman for Tractor Supply, of Brentwood, Tenn., said the Akron-Lakemore area “was attractive due to the part-time and hobby farmers, and horse owners in the area.”



He said the store will employ 12 to 17 full- and part-time workers.



Plaza co-owner Steve Davis said Tractor Supply “is obviously a big shot in the arm.”



Davis said that “filling in the balance of the [vacant] space will obviously be easier” with Tractor Supply in the plaza. “It’s an indication that the location is good, and has staying power.”



Tractor Supply is leasing nearly 24,000 square feet of space formerly occupied by Bi-Rite. That leaves about 40,000 square feet vacant in the Summit County plaza that totals more than 200,000 square feet, Davis said.



Davis and a business partner bought the plaza for $2.9 million in 2004 from a company also based in the Pittsburgh area.



Around that time, nearly half of the plaza was vacant, according to a Beacon Journal report. The new owners invested in the plaza, installing new lights and facades, and the plaza attracted some new tenants. Attracting retailers has been a struggle during the economic downturn — as it has been at shopping centers across the country, Davis said.



Jennifer Fernandez, an agent with NAI Cummins real estate of Akron, said the plaza may soon get another new tenant. She said the plaza is negotiating a possible lease for space that now is home to a Fashion Bug store.



Ascena Retail Group said earlier this fall it would close down the Fashion Bug business by early 2013.



Fernandez, and NAI Cummins agents Jeff Davis and David Kaplan are listing agents for the plaza.



Tri-County, known once as Lakemore Plaza, was built in 1959 by Edward J. DeBartolo Corp. of the Youngstown area.



Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com