Big R is getting bigger.
The Pueblo-based retailer, best known for farming and ranching supplies, will open its fourth Pikes Peak region store this fall and its first in Colorado Springs as it takes over about two-thirds of the former, 60,000-square-foot Grocery Warehouse store in the Constitution Place shopping center at Powers Boulevard and Constitution Avenue. Other than temporary users, the space has been vacant since Grocery Warehouse closed in 2007.
The newest Big R store is expected to open in late October, with a formal grand opening Nov. 9, said Big R general manager Adam Carroll. The store will have about 30 full-time employees, he said.
Big R has stores in Monument and in unincorporated Widefield and Falcon. The 40,000-square-foot Springs location will be slightly larger than Big R's other stores, Carroll said.
Big R likes to brand itself as a 21st century general store, with more than 45,000 items that appeal to a cross section of customers, Carroll said.
In addition to farming and ranching supplies, Big R sells western wear, work clothes and other products targeting a rural audience. But Big R also attempts to appeal to urban customers with pet foods, lawn and garden products, power tools and electrical, plumbing and automotive supplies, among other merchandise.
"We've just got so much more than people think," he said.
The Springs store will feature expanded selections for urban residents - an attempt to attract even more consumers, Carroll said. Big R will add Merrell and Teva footwear products and fashion-oriented Big Star and Rock Revival jeans to go with its existing lines of Columbia and Under Armour clothing, he said. The Springs store also will have larger selections of outdoor grills, pet foods and home decor items, among other expanded offerings.
The new items also will be added to Big R's Monument store, and eventually will come to the Widefield and Falcon stores, he said.
Even as it competes more directly with retailers inside the city and along the busy Powers corridor, Carroll said Big R won't lose focus of its core customers.
"We're going to still have everything that we've always had, and we're going to add even more," Carroll said. "What we're trying to do is make us even more of a one-stop shop."
About a dozen companies around the country operate stores under the Big R name. With the addition of the Springs location, the Pueblo-based Big R operation will have 14 stores in Colorado, two in New Mexico and one in Texas. Big R also might look for one additional location in the Springs area, Carroll said.
Nor'wood Development Group of Colorado Springs, which owns Constitution Place, is talking to another tenant to fill the rest of the Grocery Warehouse space, said Fred Veitch, a Nor'wood vice president. He said he couldn't disclose the tenant's name.
Even though Grocery Warehouse closed years ago, the space continued to be controlled by Albertsons, which had operated Grocery Warehouse, Veitch said. Albertsons still had five years left on its lease and was paying rent to Nor'wood, he said.
Nor'wood eventually negotiated a termination agreement with Albertsons, which allowed the developer to market the space, Veitch said.
"We're very excited to have Big R," he said. "We think they're a tremendous retailer, sensitive to community needs and they draw from a very regional customer base."
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