Bomgaars, a Soiux-city based home improvement retailer, could be moving into the Kmart building in Austin as soon as October. Bomgaars, similar to Mills Fleet Farm, would likely employ 25 to 30 people. -- Matt Peterson/

Archived Story

Another large retailer in Austin?

Published 10:05am Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The empty Kmart building left behind when it closed in May 2010 may soon be opening its doors again. Family-owned, Sioux City-based home improvement retailer Bomgaars has been looking at moving to Austin for several months, and the company has its sights set on that facility.

Craig Hoium, the city’s community development director, confirmed Monday that Bomgaars is interested. He said it would likely employ 25 to 30 people.

The Bomgaars website lists 60 retail stores, with locations in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado and Wyoming. The corporation employs about 1,400 people.

Hoium said there is a need in the community for a store like Bomgaars, which sells agricultural, automotive and hardware supplies, along with clothing, footwear and toys.

“It’s similar to a downsized [Mills] Fleet Farm store,” Hoium said.

Torrey Wingert, vice president and chief financial officer at Bomgaars, said nothing was signed at this point, though Bomgaars could put a store in fairly quickly if it got the green light.

“We look at new markets fairly regularly,” he said. “We’ve been looking at Austin for some time.”

While some aspects of the project have been finalized, it’s not set in stone yet that Bomgaars will come to Austin. The company’s negotiations for the site have been taking place during the last three or four months, Hoium said.

Bomgaars would like to buy or lease the building, Hoium said, though there’s a gap between the buyer’s and seller’s target price. The Austin Port Authority is now considering a request from the retailer for possible monetary assistance, which may take the form of a $150,000 loan. If approved, a development agreement between the Port Authority and Bomgaars would lay out the terms of the loan, including the possibility of partial or total loan forgiveness in response to the company creating jobs in the area.

If all goes according to plan, remodeling would start Sept. 1 and the store would be open for business in October.

The Austin Kmart, which occupied a 90,000-square-foot building at 1400 18th Ave. NW behind Applebee’s, had about 70 employees when it closed. The facility has been empty since May 2010 except for the west side, where JNP Motorsports opened in April.

Hoium said Bomgaars would not push JNP out of the building, but would take up the rest of the space. JNP uses 6,000 square feet, according to its owner, Jeremy Harmer, who added that having a home improvement store next door would be helpful to his business.

“It would attract more people back in this area,” he said. “With the rest of the building empty, a lot of people still don’t know we’re back here.”

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  • Evo4g

    Would be nice to have some factory’s come to Austin that would create more jobs. So some of us don’t have to drive say 30 to 60 miles a day one way just to make a living. But we all know HORMEL won’t let any other company in Austin..

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    • pashusa

      Get rid of the unions in Austin and the companies might think about moving in.

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  • LEXXfan

    It would have been nice to see Menard’s come to town instead, like they had planned on doing a few years ago, but somebody in town must have really pi$$ed them off as they changed their plans back then and appear to have decided they have no interest in ever coming to town. However, when you check out the Bomgaar’s website they look like a pretty decent company with probably a lot of the same sorts of things as Mills Fleet Farm and Menard’s have to offer. If Menard’s has no interest in this town, to heck with them. Austin has needed a store like this for way too long…bring on Bomgaar’s!

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