Bi-Mart has finalized a deal to move into the Holiday Village Shopping Center, filling a major spot in the mall.
Don Leber, spokesman of the membership discount store, said a lease has been signed, construction and remodeling are under way, and the company hopes to have the Havre Bi-Mart store open this fall.
Randy Gans of Security National Properties in Eureka, Calif., owner of Holiday Village, said the addition of Bi-Mart, as well as other recent changes at the Havre shopping center, will offer the community better shopping. It will also help Holiday Village, he added.
"It'll help the existing tenants and will help us attract future tenants," he said.
Bi-Mart stores, with a headquarters in Eugene, Ore., carry a variety of merchandise, focusing on common household items, Leber said. Shoppers must pay $5 for a lifetime family membership with the store to shop there
Part of the remodeling involves closing off the southern entrance to the store and closing off the entrance between the store and the rest of the mall. Access to the store will be from the eastern entrance. Leber said all Bi-Mart stores have only one entrance, which makes it easier to function as a membership store and provide customer service.
He said he expects that the rest of the mall will still benefit from increased foot traffic.
"I think they're going to be a benefit to us and, hopefully, we're going to be a benefit to them as well," he said.
The lease with Bi-Mart makes the shopping center nearly nine-tenths full, and fills the last of the three anchor spots in the mall.
Herberger's was the only anchor store after J.C. Penney Co. Inc. closed its Havre store in 1998. Bi-Mart will take the spot J.C. Penney used to fill on the east side of the shopping center.
The southwestern anchor, which originally housed Woolworth's, emptied when Gibsons closed its Havre store about a year before Penney did.
Milk River Archery signed a lease agreement for a section of that space's basement in 2002 after operating there prior to signing the lease. In March, Whalen Tire moved from its location on U.S. Highway 2 East into the basement of the anchor spot in March, sharing that space with Milk River Archery.
Havre Tire Factory then moved from its location on Montana Avenue and Second Street into the old Whalen Tire location, previously Western Warehouse.
Late in July, CSSW Inc. of Great Falls advertised it was moving its Havre Big R Store, now on U.S. Highway 2 East, to the ground floor of the old Woolworth's location. CSSW also operates Big R stores in Great Falls, Jamestown, N.D., and Spokane, Wash.
The shopping center, about 58 percent full in February, will be about 89 percent full when Bi-Mart and Big R open there.
The Havre store will be Bi-Mart's 64th store, and the first outside of Washington and Oregon. The first store was opened in 1955 in Yakima, Wash. At the time, fair trade laws required companies to sell merchandise at or above the manufacturers' suggested retail price. Bi-Mart used the membership business model to provide discounted prices to its customers.
Congress eliminated the last of the fair trade laws in 1975, but Bi-Mart continues to use the membership-style of business, both because of tradition and to provide additional advantages to the company's customers, Leber said.
Leber said Bi-Mart will start talking to businesses inside and outside of the mall and to community organizations about honoring the membership card. People may be able to use the membership cards to get discounts at other stores and admission to events before the Havre Bi-Mart opens.
"Hopefully we can help promote their events and have them honor the Bi-Mart card," Leber said.
The central feature of a Bi-Mart store is a "power alley" that divides the store horizontally, the company's Web site said. The section usually has about 60 pallets of stacked merchandise, including specially priced merchandise and seasonal products. The goods for sale in the area change as merchandise sells and new merchandise is brought in.
The main departments in the stores include film processing, photo supplies and electronics; housewares; sporting goods; automotive; hardware; health and beauty; toys; clothing and shoes; beer, food and wine; and a full-service pharmacy.
On the Net: Bi-Mart membership store: www.bimart.com