By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
A deal that would fill an anchor space at the Holiday Village Shopping Center is close to being finalized, a representative of a retail chain said today.
Bi-Mart, a membership discount retail store, is negotiating to move into the spot that used to house the J.C. Penney Co. store.
Meanwhile, on the other end of town, a local business is relocating its operations to another vacant retail building.
Vaughn Truck Sales of Havre is moving its shop and sales lot to the former Kmart location on U.S. Highway 2 East.
Don Leber, director of advertising for Bi-Mart, said today his company is negotiating with Security National Properties, which owns Holiday Village. He said Bi-Mart hopes to finalize a deal on the location within a month.
"We don't have an agreement yet, but if that comes through we will have a store in Havre," he said.
Randy Gans, who works at Security National Properties' headquarters in Eureka, Calif., said today he can't comment on the deal until it is finalized, possibly within a few days.
Gans, who is in Havre today, said the mall is doing some remodeling on the space, such as removing old carpeting, but is not doing it for Bi-Mart.
Leber said Bi-Mart, headquartered in Eugene, Ore., carries a wide selection of merchandise, focusing on common items for everyday use. The company also attempts to keep prices low by reducing overhead costs and passing on deals from manufacturers to the members.
The store operations are very similar in all locations, he said. Bi-Mart, which began in Yakima, Wash., in 1955, has 62 stores in Washington and Oregon. The Havre store would be its first location in Montana.
Each Bi-Mart store has about 50 employees, Leber said.
Shoppers buy a lifetime membership with a one-time cost of $5, he said. The company attempts to provide additional benefits through agreements with other organizations and businesses, he added.
Bi-Mart membership cards are often used to get special offers at other stores, athletic events and other special events in communities where its stores are located, he said.
Opening a store in the J.C. Penney space wouldn't require much remodeling, he said. Bi-Mart keeps its retail stores very simple, Leber said.
Buildings constructed to hold Bi-Marts are typically a big box with high ceilings, he said. When stores are opened in existing locations, the floor plan might be modified slightly, he said.
The space has been empty since J.C. Penney closed its Havre operation in 1998.
The old Kmart building has been vacant since 1992, when the new store opened west of town.
Jim Vaughn, who owns Vaughn Truck Sales with his parents, Chuck and Paula Vaughn, said the company hopes o move its operations to the new location by this fall.
The deed for the property was transferred from Denver Partners, a development company headquartered in Pennsylvania, to Chuck Vaughn on May 11.
"We're just trying to consolidate," Jim Vaughn said today.
Vaughn Truck Sales, which rebuilds used semi tractors and trailers for resale and sells parts and equipment for semis, operates from two locations, he said. The tractors and trailers are displayed on a lot near the John Deere dealership west of town, while the repair shop is in a separate location near the city and county shops near the Hill County Justice Center on Second Street West.
"The master plan is to move everything out of (the current locations) so we're not running back and forth," Vaughn said.
The company owns the properties it uses now, and there is no definite plan about what will happen to those properties, he said. The lot by John Deere will probably eventually be rented out or sold, he said.
The old Kmart store was built in 1975.