Casto is a third-generation full-service real estate company which has sustained its position as an industry leader for more than eight decades. The company's strong foundation is based on the beliefs and values of its visionary founder, Don Monroe Casto, Sr., an enterprising and innovative businessman who began his career in real estate selling, then building single-family homes in Upper Arlington, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus.
Tough times continued throughout World War II, when the nation moved into an industrial defense posture and commercial construction was at a virtual standstill. Foreseeing the changing shopping patterns of the new transient society, Casto moved to secure sites before land values soared. Under his leadership, the organization continued to expand and built 27 regional shopping centers and malls as far west as Missouri and north to Michigan. Internationally recognized as a pioneer in the shopping center industry, radio commentator Paul Harvey described Don M. Casto, Sr. as "the man who changed the shopping habits of the free world" after his death in 1963.
The center's opening was celebrated with a parade featuring members of the original "Our Gang" films, a streetfair with children's games, and musical entertainment. A county-wide contest was sponsored by The Columbus Dispatch and Loew's Theatre to select local children to appear in an Our Gang feature. The "Bank Block," so named because First Citizens Trust was the first tenant to open in the center, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000 and is still a thriving retail corridor.
Casto also insisted on radical innovations for his retailers that were only reluctantly accepted - like requiring stores to stay open until 9:00 p.m. six nights a week (since an estimated 70% of sales would be transacted between 5:00 and 9:00 p.m.) and because the center was designed to be set to the rear with a huge parking area in front, having neon signs that could be seen from the street during all hours of operation. Town & Country's original 31 shops and services included JCPenney, Kroger, Kresge's, Gray Drugs, and Richman Brothers. Sam's Shoe Service, also an original tenant, continues to operate at the center.
Through the years, Town & Country has been expanded, remodeled and repositioned, demonstrating Casto's commitment to its tenants, customers and the community-at-large. Today, the 511,575 square foot center continues to provide a vital, convenient shopping alternative in its retail trade market.
Other innovative promotions included marking the start of the Christmas shopping season with Santa's arrival by helicopter, sidewalk art shows featuring local artists and craftsmen, and center-wide sales events and contests.