Big Lots opens in Northbridge Mall

Published 1:08 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

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Big Lots Inc. held a soft opening for its newest store Friday in a portion of the former Shopko building.

“Our team has been working hard to bring the Albert Lea community an amazing new store, and we’re so glad the day is finally here,” said Bruce Thorn, Big Lots president and CEO, in a press release. “We’ve put a lot of thought into the layout, design and presentation to make the experience the best it can be.”

Jason Merritt, district manager at Big Lots, said due to the timing of construction, it worked out to open now.

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“From a community standpoint, first and foremost we’re happy to be in the community,” he said. “We think this fits our footprint as a company.”

He also added the company’s goal is to grow, and he said they thought Albert Lea was an area they could thrive in as a company. The company has been in the area preparing for the opening since August or September.

“It went pretty smooth,” he said, about moving into the space. “There was nothing that really jumped out to us.”

Merritt said community feedback was “great” and said people were happy to have another place to shop in the area.

He said it was exciting to be in a position to meet new people in the community.

“We’re happy to be here,” he said.

In the release, Big Lots describes itself as a unique shopping experience that was “part treasure hunt, part bargain hunt and part everyday necessities.”

According to Chad Christensen, regional director of real estate with the Carrington Co., Big Lots will use 30,000 square feet of space and is located next to Harbor Freight Tools, a national hardware retailer. Harbor Freights opened last summer. On the other side, a new Dollar Tree store prepares to open next month.

Ashley Walk came to the soft opening from Alden after hearing about the event through social media.

“Never been before, and actually really like it,” she said. “Prices are actually really cheap — they’re cheaper than Walmart.”

Walk looked forward to shopping there in the future.

Laurie Hrdalo stopped by the store Thursday after seeing lights on. After learning they were opening Friday, she got up early.

“I love it — we had fun,” she said. “Overspent.”

She particularly enjoyed the variety of products as well as the different options of furniture and food.

“It’s nice,” she said.

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Big Lots Inc is an American home discount retailer with more than 1,460 stores in 48 states. Big Lots provides furniture, seasonal decor, kitchenware, pet supplies, food items and laundry and cleaning essentials, among other items. The company mission is “live big and save lots,” and Big Lots was the recipient of Home Textiles Today’s 2021 Retail Titan Award.

The store’s official grand opening will be at 8:45 a.m. Feb. 11, with the opening weekend running through Feb. 12. When fully staffed, Merritt estimated the new location would provide jobs for 30 to 40 people. The business, at 2614 Bridge Ave., is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Currently there is one other Big Lots location in the state: Blaine. However Merritt said the company would like to grow its footprint in Minnesota.