ELKO – When Kmart closed its doors this fall many people were disappointed to lose one of only two large-scale general merchandise suppliers in the area. Walmart is the only such store that remains. But, long before Kmart discounted and sold all its merchandise, retail-starved locals began discussing the possibilities of what would fill the space.
“It’s big enough for an inside mall,” local resident Dan Beeler said. “Different, small shops would be good.”
“I would love to see a Target to have a nice variety for shopping,” said Eva Owsian.
Still others vied for Costco, Olive Garden, Kohl’s, Trader Joe’s and Michael’s.
The property is being purchased by Meridian Pacific, which also owns the Elko Junction shopping center across the highway. A schematic on the company’s website shows the building parceled into several sections with outlets named in each space.
The names are merely examples of what could go in the spaces, however.
“The building will be butterflied into five retail spaces anchored by Hobby Lobby, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Sports Authority,” the website states. The online drawing also shows Sears and Harbor Freight Tools inside the main building. A Discount Tire store is shown next to Burger King on the same lot.
David Fonua, vice president of construction for Meridian Pacific, said the drawing is just an example of many different retail formulas the company has explored for the building.
“When we go in to purchase a property we make drawings and reach out to businesses,” Fonua said. That drawing is one of about 200.”
Although he could not commit to the businesses that will eventually occupy the space Fonua did allude to some of the retail operations the company is seeking out that are the same as on the website.
“We are working with companies like Hobby Lobby, Kohl’s, Sportsman’s Complex, Discount Tire and Harbor Freight,” he said. “Every year we work with these types of tenants to see if they might work for Elko. Gary Pinkston [Meridian Pacific CEO and owner] is always trying to find ways to keep money in Elko and keep more variety in shopping. We want to keep the revenue here.”
Local residents are anxious for the chance to shop, as well.
“My wife says we need the Hobby Lobby because I will take too long in Harbor Freight,” Jeff Laughter said. “Then she will have somewhere to go, too.”
The building may not be filled with only retail shops. Meridian Pacific is also working with Elko’s charter school, which may lease a part of the building.
“Right now one tenant we are working with is the Elko Institute for Academic Achievement,”Fonua said. “We have mixed retail and educational facilities successfully in three different locations. We are trying to get creative to bring clients to retailers.”
Meanwhile, the Christmas shopping season will pass with the store remaining vacant.
“Of course, when any new business comes to town it is a big asset,”said Elko Area Chamber CEO Billie Crapo. “They provide more options and more tax dollars to help with our roads and schools.”
Crapo, like so many others, can only guess the final outcome of what the space will contain.
“We would love them to be a part of the chamber and support and give back to the community,” she said.