The retail environment in Madison will be changing in exciting ways in coming months, according to Eric Fosheim, executive director of the Lake Area Improvement Corporation (LAIC). Not only is Ace Hardware currently working on an expansion at the former site of Shopko HomeTown, but Runnings has announced plans to build a new store in Madison.
"People should be excited about what's going on in Madison and about the investments being made," Fosheim said.
He said LAIC began to work with Runnings as soon as the company purchased Campbell's Supply. At the time of the acquisition, Campbell's Supply operated seven retail stores, including one located on N.W. 3rd Street in Madison. Runnings, founded in 1947 and based in Marshall, Minn., operates 54 stores in eight states and employs more than 2,400 people.
"They knew right out of the chute that their ambitions in Madison were greater than the current store," Fosheim reported.
After considering available options, Runnings purchased nine acres in the Lakeview Industrial Park west of Kibble Equipment along SD-34. Fosheim noted one benefit of this location.
"I think the Kibble clientele and a portion of the Runnings clientele are very similar," he said.
In May, the city's planning and zoning commission held a hearing to consider the company's request to use an area zoned for light industrial for a highway retail store.
"[The commission] had to make sure their site plan met certain standards," Fosheim said. "As people enter Madison, they had to make sure they would see an appealing site."
Last week, Runnings announced plans to begin construction in the fall on a 68,000-square-foot retail store. It is the second new store they've announced in as many months. Last month, the company announced plans to construct a 74,000-square-foot store in Vermillion.
"We're incredibly excited to be able to open larger stores in markets where we feel there is a greater need for the selection of everyday necessities that we sell," said Dan Herrmann, Runnings COO, in a press release.
Fosheim indicated plans for the new store include a 13,000-square-foot clothing department, which is about the size of the current store. The company's press release said the inventory of the home, farm and outdoor store will include "a wide assortment of trusted brands of clothing, footwear, pet supplies, housewares, tools, farm supplies, lawn and garden supplies, toys and outdoor equipment."
In addition, the retailer will carry hunting and fishing supplies as well as firearms.
"Having an additional retail establishment will be beneficial to Madison's growing population, workforce and educational system," Madison Mayor Marshall Dennert said in the press release. "The location along Highway 34 will be ideal for what they have to offer."
With the two business expansions in Madison, Fosheim sees the community getting one step closer to becoming a regional retail hub. If shoppers don't have to go to Brookings or Sioux Falls to get basics such as shoes and socks, they will do more of their shopping in Madison, which will strengthen the community's tax base.
In addition, with the expanded retail options, the community will be better prepared for growth that is anticipated in other sectors.
"There are some manufacturers in town that anticipate growth in the future and that would create new primary jobs," Fosheim said. New primary jobs generally lead to a greater demand for retail services, he said.
He is personally impressed with the significant investments being made to help fill a retail void in Madison and to offer Madison area residents more of what they need. He feels expansions by established local businesses are a hopeful sign that Madison is on the cusp of new growth.
"Between the Ace Hardware expansion and the new Runnings store, the retail landscape in Madison is going to look a lot different a year from now," Fosheim said.