Minot shoppers have been economizing for close to 50 years, and their patronage has been rewarded with a brand new store.
The original Home of Economy opened in 1965, and after 47 years has finally given way to a new facility that's 58,000 square feet, roughly three times the size of the old one. Rod Walker, store manager, said they have newly expanded operating hours to go along with the new store.
"It's a real strong market in Minot here right now and to meet the needs of the customers you really have to be available when they're available to shop," Walker said.
While the new store is at the same location as the old one, Walker said they were able to keep the business open throughout construction. The warehouse was torn down in March and the old store continued to operate without it until everything was moved into the new store Oct. 4. The old store was then demolished to increase parking.
With the massive growth in Minot, Walker said the old store simply couldn't meet the demands being placed upon it any more. That made the decision to start fresh a pretty easy one for the owners.
"I think with the growth in Minot it was the right time, and obviously that store had outlived its ability to meet the needs of the customer. We needed a bigger store," Walker said. "The timing was right and the opportunity presented itself, and they decided to build."
One of the big additions to the new store is the Amish Gallery, which features Amish furniture such as dining room sets, bedroom sets, living room sets, desks and rockers. Walker said the Amish Gallery is around 10,000 square feet, so it takes up a sizable part of the store.
"It's absolutely beautiful. I've worked with wood my whole life, and the finish and quality is just unreal," Walker said. "We do sell Amish (furniture) in the Grand Forks store, so we're the second store. It goes real well there, and we've already had a lot of people shopping it (in Minot)."
One unique aspect of the Amish Gallery is that furniture can be custom ordered.
"If you want this dining room table 6 inches narrower or 6 inches wider, if you want this rocker 2 inches higher, they will do that," Walker said. "So they have the ability to custom order - many different woods, finishes, hardware, trim. So exactly what the customer would like."
In addition to new departments like the Amish Gallery, Home of Economy has also expanded existing departments. Walker said they have even more Honda generator, snowblower, mower and tiller offerings. There is also a nice selection of Weber grills, and the clothing department expanded tremendously.
Linda Houston, clothing manager, said the clothing department at the old store was only around 3,000 square feet. The new clothing department takes up close to one-third of the entire 58,000-square-foot store.
This has allowed them to greatly expand their Carhartt clothing line for both men and women, as well as carry more flame-resistant clothing in several brands that is needed by oil field workers and linemen. The timing of the additional space for flame-resistant clothing couldn't be any better, according to Houston.
"Within the last year we've had a rise in sales on that and requests," Houston said.
They also carry more of the Wrangler and Under Armour brands, along with more hats, belts and shirts.
Since the new store doesn't have a warehouse like the old one did, all merchandise is on the sales floor. Houston said this makes it easy for customers to see if items are in stock with just a quick look.
"The customer can see it, pick it up and go. They don't have to wait for us to go find something in the back room. Everything we have is out on the floor."
All that extra space not only allows Home of Economy to carry more merchandise, it gives customers more room to shop without bumping into each other.
"They just love the wide aisles we've got. It gives them room to shop. We can have a lot of people in the store and you don't really know it," Houston said. "The parking lot's full and so is the store, but with all the wide aisles and as large as it is, you don't notice it."
No detail was overlooked in building the new store. The front entryway has a high ceiling and is impressively large and open, offering plenty of room for customers to flow through the doors into the store's interior. The floors are polished concrete, and even the restrooms received a lot of attention to detail. Walker said in addition to the tiled floors and walls, the facets and sinks are stainless steel, and the countertops are an attractive marble.
"The owners wanted to make a statement with those (restrooms)," Walker said.
Houston noted the giant sign above the front entrance of the store is actually the old sign that used to stand outside Home of Economy and light up at night. It has been completely refurbished and brings a touch of the old store with it.
Home of Economy even heated the sidewalks outside the store so customers won't have to worry about slipping on ice. In addition, free coffee is available so customers can warm up with a cup of joe while they wander through the store this winter.
They have also changed the checkout layout. Instead of lanes like in the old store, there are now two circular pods with four checkouts each. Walker said this is something new the owners wanted to try and customers seem to like it, and have acclimated to it quickly.
Another customer convenience is consistent pricing throughout all of Home of Economy's stores.
"Things aren't higher in Minot than in Williston. Everything is priced the same," Walker said. "You go to Grand Forks, it's the same price as in Williston. You go to Williston, it's the same price as in Jamestown. So we've remained constant in our pricing, and are very competitive."
Walker said they are still hiring for all departments to help round out the staff, and anyone interested can stop by and pick up an application from the front.
Drawings are also being held throughout the grand opening, culminating with a grand prize drawing Nov. 26 for a new Bobcat 3400 side by side utility vehicle.
The new store has been a hit with both customers and employees. It has been busy since the opening, and now that the parking lot is done it will be even easier to shop there. Walker said customers like the openness of the store and its large entryway with automatic doors.
Home of Economy's new home in Minot might have been a long time coming, but it looks like the wait was worth it.
"They just like the fact that it's nice, it's bright, they've commented on our customer service," Walker said. "You can tell the customer is very happy with the changes we've made."