HILLSBORO — A spokesman for Rural King on Friday confirmed the company’s interest in locating in Hillsboro in the facility currently occupied by Kmart, but said its offers “have been repeatedly rejected” from the Kmart corporate office.
Brian Hutchins, vice-president of Business Development for Rural King, responded to an inquiry from The Times-Gazette Friday, saying in an email, “We have had and continue to have interest in Hillsboro. However, we have not been able to come to terms with Sears Holding Corporation on their property. Our offers have been repeatedly rejected with no meaningful feedback from them.”
Hutchins added, “We feel we would add value to the community and help our customers make their hard earned dollars stretch farther.”
Sears Holdings announced Thursday it was closing the Hillsboro Kmart at the end of January 2018. Around the same time, an email from an official with the Orscheln Farm & Home store planned for Harry Sauner Road stated that construction of that facility was “on hold.”
The two moves led to speculation that Kmart’s closing may have impacted Orscheln’s plans, since Rural King often purchases and utilizes old Kmart facilities.
Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings said Thursday that in the past year, Rural King had expressed interest in coming to Hillsboro.
A message left with Sears Holdings on Friday morning was not returned.
The city was informed this week that construction of the Orscheln store has been placed on hold by the company, according to an email from an Orscheln representative forwarded to The Times-Gazette by Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie.
In the email, Orscheln representative Linda Mustoe said the construction was placed on hold due to the company having multiple other projects underway in other areas.
“Please assure Mayor Hastings that there is no Hillsboro city or city-government issue that contributed to Orscheln’s decision to place its Hillsboro, Ohio store construction on hold,” the email reads. “Orscheln has numerous expansion projects underway and given the number and size of these projects, we recently made several adjustments to our schedule including the difficult decision to place the Hillsboro site on hold. Hillsboro, Ohio is a welcoming, impressive, thriving community and market.”
But the move immediately led to speculation that the announcement Thursday by Kmart that it is closing its Hillsboro location might have impacted the decision by Orscheln to place its construction plan in Hillsboro on hold. In many communities, Rural King stores have taken up residence in former Kmart facilities. Like Orscheln, Rural King is a “farm and home” store.
Hillsboro’s Kmart is among 45 Kmart stores and 18 Sears stores across the country that will be closing in late January 2018, the company said Thursday.
The company statement on the Kmart closing said, “It’s important to note that these stores will remain open to serve members during the holiday season. Eligible associates impacted by these store closures will receive severance and will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Kmart or Sears stores. Customers can use the store locator function on our web sites to find the location of their nearest Kmart and Sears stores. Liquidation sales will begin as early as November 9 at these closing stores.”
Hillsboro was one of five Kmarts in Ohio on the closing list.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitte @abernathygary.