Looks like the former K-Mart space in the Miller Hill area will finally be home to a new tenant, well actually two. In what is a short amount of time considering that K-Mart closed in May, it was officially announced today that one tenant has officially signed on to lease 59,000 square feet of space. So what tenant will be opening up one of it's 40 new stores new tear in Duluth in January 2013? Craft lovers rejoice, Hobby Lobby will soon be here. Now as I am quite certain, most people who live in the Duluth area will be quite unfamiliar with the brand Hobby Lobby. Why? Because it really hasn't entered the Minnesota market yet and can only be found to have a location in Rochester and Mankato. A.K.A, they have kept their expansion plans focusing on the south. Hobby Lobby is an arts and crafts store that currently has over 500 locations across the United States, mainly below the Southern Twin Cities border line. If you are thinking that this store is quite similar to Michaels, then you're right. The only difference? It's about two to three times the size and runs business a little differently. Hobby Lobby centers it's business practices around Christian beliefs. That means that you won't find their stores open on Sundays and during Christmas and around other large religious holidays you will see Christian references in there ads, and yes, if you are in their stores you might hear an instrumental version of a Christian hymn over the loud speaker. But don't worry, they won't force you to become part of their Christian way of life in order to shop at their store. And no, you won't get annoyed or feel as if you are being overloaded by their practice of faith. What else makes Hobby Lobby different than Michaels? They carry over 60,000 products in over 13 departments, refrain from using barcodes, hand mark and ring up every single product in their stores and are open Monday - Saturday from 9am to 8pm. Turns out representatives for Hobby Lobby have been hoping to open a store in Duluth for about a decade now. And yes, Hobby Lobby does hold a lot of sales which in a way makes it similar to Michael's. What's been holding them back? The high cost of constructing a new store of their size in the Duluth area. Finally their dreams came true when a large enough pre-built space opened with the departure of K-Mart in May. Renovations will start in September (and will take four months), hiring in December, and the Duluth Hobby Lobby store should be open before January 1st.
So what about the remaining 29,000 square feet of retail space? Officials say that they currently in talks with a retailer and hope to have plans finalized by the end of the summer. All that will be said is that the tenant will compliment Saver's and Hobby Lobby. If everything goes smoothly, the new tenant could be open before Hobby Lobby. What's my guess for the new tenant? Two actually, well for right now at least. I'd say it either could be a Big Lots store (as they are expanding heavily in Minnesota right now, or possibly even a Goodwill retail location. Both stores fit the square footage size and both stores would compliment Saver's and Hobby Lobby. The hunt is on to find out the last tenant for the former K-Mart space.
My last say in this, Kudos to the team that worked so hard to fill the former K-Mart space and bring a new face to the Duluth retail scene. I am quite certain that Duluthians will throughly enjoy the presence of Hobby Lobby when it opens in the fall.