Retail store Runnings purchases former Kmart property

Published 10:22 am Thursday, February 14, 2013

Marshall-based home improvement store Runnings has purchased the former Kmart building, which sits across 18th Avenue from Oak Park Mall. -- Kevin Coss/

A new home for home improvement

A new home improvement store is likely coming to the north end of town.

Craig Hoium, Austin city’s community development director, confirmed Wednesday that Runnings, a Marshall-based retailer, has purchased the former Kmart building across from Oak Park Mall on 18th Avenue.

While the company has purchased the property, it is still negotiating the remainder of a lease by Kmart/Sears Holding Co., which lasts through November 2016. Hoium said he is not aware of a planned opening date, as the issue of the lease must be settled first.

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Runnings CEO Dan Herrmann declined to comment on the purchase, but said the company is always keeping an eye out for new locations and is interested in the Austin area.

“Is there a desire?” Herrmann said. “Definitely.”

Runnings, founded by Norman Running in 1947 as an automotive supply store, now sells everything from farm equipment to sporting goods. The company has 31 stores throughout Minnesota, the Dakotas and Montana, according to its website, and employs more than 1,000 people.

In July, Sioux City-based Bomgaars expressed interest in buying or leasing the building. The Austin Port Authority considered the retailer’s request for a $150,000 loan. Such an agreement between the Port Authority and Bomgaars would have come along with certain terms, including the possibility of partial or total loan forgiveness in response to the company creating and keeping jobs in the area.

The outlook of those plans changed when Hoium confirmed in September a different retailer was finalizing negotiations to acquire the building without the need for a subsidy from the city. The company, Runnings, was not identified at that time.