Bomgaars, a farm and ranch supply company with retail stores in seven states, will open its 90th store in North Platte’s former Shopko building this fall, a regional manager for the firm told The Telegraph Friday.
The Sioux City, Iowa-based chain has reached a purchase agreement with the Massachusetts owners of the building at 510 E. Philip Ave., said Rick Penkava of North Platte, west general operations manager for Bomgaars.
Penkava said the Shopko building became available for sale “at a price attractive to us,” allowing Bomgaars to further expand in what has been a successful Nebraska market for the company.
Though the real estate purchase won’t close until next month, “we have signed an agreement that we can get early occupancy of the building,” Penkava said. “We should have occupancy in 10 days to two weeks.”
Remodeling will follow before Bomgaars will open what will be its 28th retail Nebraska store, likely in November, he said.
Bomgaars, he added, will employ 25 to 30 people in the 70,000-square-foot building where Shopko closed June 23 after the Wisconsin-based retail chain liquidated its stores.
Bomgaars will hold a job fair Aug. 12-13 at a site to be announced later, Penkava said.
Gary Person, president and CEO of North Platte Area Chamber & Development Corp., called Bomgaars’ plans “very welcome news” that should energize retail renewal in the business district dominated by Platte River Mall.
“You always have a concern, when you have a nice retail building ... (that) it would end up a warehouse or storage space, because it was (listed) at an attractive price,” Person said.
Bomgaars, he added, was one of the retail firms identified as a good match for North Platte in Buxton Inc.’s 2018 retail recruitment study for the chamber.
It’s “a Midwestern company that’s growing,” Person said. “It makes a statement about our trade area that they would buy a building of that magnitude. That’ll send a positive message to some of the other companies we’re working with.”
Chamber officials are working with Platte River Mall’s management company, Person said, to not only attract new anchor stores but also “reinvent” the nearly 50-year-old property.
The arrival of Bomgaars, which will be just east of the mall, “will give that project some energy, too,” he said. “It will be more complementary than a (mall) competitor.”
Shopko’s closing was the latest in a series of North Platte retail losses over the past two years that were mainly driven less by local demand than by upheavals in the national “big-box” retail economy.
JCPenney, Staples, Herberger’s and Payless Shoe Source — all of which had stores in the mall — closed their North Platte stores between 2017 and this spring. Ashley HomeStore took over Staples’ former mall location last fall.
Penkava said North Platte’s store will be one of the largest for Bomgaars, which has stores in buildings ranging from 20,000 to 70,000 square feet.
“We’re always looking for markets that have great demographics,” he said. “North Platte is a shopping hub for the region. It draws (down) to Kansas on the south and as far as Valentine to the north.”
The Sioux City chain will enter a North Platte farm and ranch retail market that includes Orscheln Farm & Home and Tractor Supply Co.
Bomgaars will compete to supply agricultural producers’ needs but offer products that also appeal to the region’s broader population, Penkava said.
The stores’ non-agricultural product lines, he said, include “work and country clothing”; tools; automotive, lawn and garden, plumbing, hardware, electrical and pet supplies; and seasonal offerings like nursery plants in the spring and “old-fashioned ag toys, games and puzzles” at Christmas.
Bomgaars’ closest current locations are in Ogallala, Imperial and Valentine. The Ogallala store, located in the former Alco Shopping Center building on East U.S. Highway 30, “quite frankly does terrific,” Penkava said.
Other Bomgaars stores in Nebraska are in Ainsworth, Albion, Alliance, Blair, Bridgeport, Central City, Chadron, Columbus, Creighton, Fremont, Gordon, Hartington, Neligh, Norfolk, O’Neill, Plattsmouth, St. Paul,
Schuyler, Scottsbluff, Sidney, Tekamah, Wahoo, Wayne and West Point.
The chain, which has a distribution center in Gering, also operates in Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wyoming.