Rural King will open a store in Clark County as early as mid-April, a move that will fill a long-vacant retail space in German Twp. and provide another retail option for local shoppers.
Local leaders have tried to entice the company for more than a year to open a store at the former Kmart location at 1476 Upper Valley Pike, Clark County Commissioner John Detrick said.
The store is a needed shot in the arm for the Upper Valley Pike corridor, Detrick said. The area has seen its mall struggle and has lost several retail locations in recent years, including anchors Macy’s and JC Penney.
An average Rural King store employs about 25 full-time employees and 45 part-time workers.
The retailer, based in Mattoon, Ill., has 86 locations in 10 states, mostly throughout the Midwest and Florida. The Springfield store will be the company’s 87th store, said David Bailey, a spokesman for the company.
Agriculture plays an important role in the economy in Clark and Champaign counties, Bailey said, and the region is a good fit for the kinds of customers Rural King serves. The store sells everything from agricultural supplies to clothing and sporting goods. This will be Rural King’s 20th store in Ohio.
“Springfield is a great location with a hard-working rural community,” Bailey said. “This is our demographic.”
The new location is tentatively aiming for a grand opening the second week of April, he said. The store is accepting applications for prospective employees online for a variety of jobs, including management and sales associate positions. Residents can apply at www.rktalent.com.
In addition Rural King is working with OhioMeansJobs Clark County to host open interviews today , as well as Jan. 28 and 29, said Tracey Kohl, a recruiter for OhioMeansJobs. Interviews will be from 9 a.m. to 4:30 pm. at OhioMeansJobs.
Locally, the retailer also has locations in Greenville, Xenia and Huber Heights.
Talks with Rural King ramped up when Kmart closed in 2014, said George Degenhart, planning and zoning director for German Twp. The store will be a good fit for the area, and it’s something several residents have asked about, he said.
“They’re excited about coming,” Degenhart said of Rural King. “This is a store that the community has actually requested.”
Ideally, the store will draw some shoppers back to Upper Valley Pike, he said, and potentially benefit other businesses.
“This will help us a lot,” Degenhart said. “It’s certainly going to help the area. Rural King will be an excellent traffic driver and it’s very exciting for that area.”
Ideally, Rural King’s decision to move to the area will encourage other retailers to take a closer look at the region as well, said Patricia Wooten, of Springfield, who was shopping on Upper Valley Pike on Thursday.
“It will be great because a lot of stores have been going out in this area and it will give us more places to shop,” Wooten said.
The area has good access to highways, which was attractive to the company, Detrick said.
“It will definitely be a shot in the arm for the area and the big thing they’re going to do is they’re going to give us a wide variety of merchandise to choose from,” Detrick said. “They’ve got something there for everybody.”
Local officials are hoping the new store is a first step as they try to revive Upper Valley Pike.
“We’ve been waiting for this for quite a while so it’s an exciting time and hopefully it’s a beginning,” Degenhart said.
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