When Kmart closes its doors, North 40 Outfitters steps in and reopens them.
The new North 40 Outfitters in Havre, which will occupy the former Kmart building off U.S. Highway 2, will be about twice as big and will offer significantly more, including an archery range that its current location in the Holiday Village Mall does not have.
“There will be more of everything,” said John Teini, the corporate sales and presentation manager.
The goal is to open by year’s end.
On Wednesday morning, Teini and company spokesperson Drew Steinberger gave a media tour of the in-progress Havre building.
When asked if it’s pure coincidence that led North 40 to former Kmarts, they said it was and further acknowledged it as a perk.
“It’s nice to take this building and put it in use for the community,” Teini said.
This will be the third time North 40 has moved into a former Kmart. Its Great Falls store at 4400 10th Avenue South replaced a Kmart, and the incoming North 40 on the city’s west side also will occupy a former Kmart.
With the sound of drills and hammers in the background, the men walked reporters through the Havre store and answered questions.
At 91,000 square feet, the new building is almost twice the size of the 48,000 square feet it occupies now. In addition to more dressing rooms and cash registers, the larger space will house more merchandise in farm and ranch, apparel, pet and animal, home and garden, outdoor, automotive and sporting goods categories, as well as some additional features like the archery range.
The 30-yard, multi-lane archery range will be free for anyone testing bows they’re interested in buying. For people who want to target shoot, there’ll be a rate. But like many aspects of the incoming operation, that rate is yet to be determined.
The new North 40 will also have a larger selection of grills and smokers.
In the front will be a large propane tank catering to passing RVs along the Highway 2 corridor.
The Havre location has about 60 part- and full-time employees. How much that number will increase at the new location is uncertain, but it’s certain that more people will be hired.
North 40 is taking applications for the new location and people can apply online.
Merchandise will be influenced by local needs, the company reps said. They estimate there will be about a six-month adjustment period during which the company will pay attention to customer needs and tailor the store based on that feedback.
They minced no words about it — North 40 wants to be the cornerstone of the community. It aims to eliminate locals’ need to drive to Great Falls or Billings as much as possible.
While society has moved more to online buying, North 40 says their formula to growth has been largely based on the customer service you can’t get by buying online.
People buying equipment such as a lawn mower will leave the store with it gassed, oiled and ready to cut. Anglers will leave with reels spooled and rods ready to cast. And when there are problems or questions, products can be returned or customer service reps consulted.
In addition to more bows and an archery range to test them, there will be more firearms. North 40 will continue to carry any legal firearms and legal ammunition for law-abiding citizens, Steinberger said, replying to a question about whether the company has considered making moves like Walmart, which recently announced it will stop selling ammunition for “military-style weapons.”
Another new feature will be a community room available for third-party classes, the reps said, citing conceal carry classes as an example of the kind of training that can be hosted in the room.
Although customer services is the company’s secret ingredient to success, the new building will have a front desk more capable of enhancing the online aspect of buying. That area is meant to help those who order online come and pick up their products and get back to work. The idea is to expedite the buying experience, especially when time is of the essence.
The work is about halfway finished.
While the floors have been sanded and shelves are in, there’s plenty more to do. There are workers in nearly all parts of the store. The goal is, “tentatively,” Steinberger emphasized, to open before the end of the year. The transition will include a hard closing of the current store and hard opening of its new facility.
Email Paul Dragu at firstname.lastname@example.org