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Dollar Store-anchored center a hidden gem

By: Cheri March, The News Messenger
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Heading down Highway 65 to one of Lincoln's chain-anchored shopping centers is not an easy task for Stephanie Perfino. That's because the Lincoln resident doesn't drive. She rides a bike. But lucky for Perfino, she needs only to cross the street from her home to get her errands done. For more than a year, RJ's Dollar Store at Nicolaus Road and Lakeside Drive has filled most of Perfino's shopping needs. And now restaurants Pizza Round-up and Subway have joined the dollar store anchor. Jenkins Martial Arts Karate rounds out the strip mall, which also has room for two more tenants. It's just convenient, said Perfino, browsing the shelves at RJ's last week. There's not very much out this way, but I can ride my bike right over here. More than the location, though, it's the store's selection that keeps her coming back. My daughter comes here and buys stuff with her allowance, Perfino said. It's really nice to have a dollar store in Lincoln “ it's something affordable. Along with necessities, Perfino stocked up on some low-budget Valentine's Day gifts. It's something nice I can do without draining my bank account, she said. Ruth McIlhenny, who owns RJ's along with her family, intended to fill a need she noticed in Lincoln when she opened in 2006. Lincoln was growing fast and there were no other dollar stores out here, she said. It's convenient for people on this side of town because they don't have to go down (Highway) 65. RJ's specializes in party supplies, evident by the selection of more than 150 balloons colorful balloons wrapping the walls. But the store also carries everything from fishing gear to scrapbook supplies, as well as basics like cereal and school stuff. We try to make it unique for a dollar store, she said. I like to appeal to a wide variety of patrons. McIlhenny can also order special items on request. Despite patronage by loyal customers like Perfino, McIlhenny hopes the new shops will bring in a bit more business. I think a lot of people still don't realize we're here, she said. Olivia Cook, manager of recently-opened Pizza Round-Up, is optimistic. People don't know we're here yet. But I think it's a great location, she said. We're surrounded by all these new homes. Along with pizza, the Marysville-based restaurant offers sandwiches, burgers, and beer. We make our dough and sauce from scratch every day, Cook said. Our slogan is, ˜You've tried the rest, now eat the best.' For residents not just across the road, Pizza Round-up delivers anywhere in Lincoln after 5 p.m. on weekdays, and all day on weekends. Another eatery, Lincoln's third Subway, joined the center in November. Owner Joga Dulay, who also owns the location on Sterling Parkway, said he wanted to reach customers on the other side of town. I found the place, so I opened up, he said. People seem to like it.