MOUNT VERNON – Big Lots is returning to Mount Vernon.
The Columbus-based retail chain will soon occupy the former Pat Catan’s location at 1550 Coshocton Ave., Regency Properties Marketing Director Jessica Wildeman told Knox Pages Friday. Big Lots signed on Dec. 31 to become an anchor tenant in the Knox Village Square shopping center, which Regency Properties owns.
“We are so very excited for Big Lots to join our shopping center in Mount Vernon,” Wildeman said in an email. “We have other Big Lots locations in our portfolio and they are a wonderful tenant to have.”
Big Lots left Mount Vernon in 2014 after spending close to a decade at 911 Coshocton Ave., where Marshalls currently sits, Knox County Chamber of Commerce Director Carol Grubaugh said. She seemed thrilled about the idea of having the business back.
“I think it’s very exciting that they are coming back to town…” Grubaugh said. “I know they are happy to come back and we’re happy to have them here. It’s more jobs, it’s more shopping options, and all of that is good for the county.”
Pat Catan’s, Knox County’s lone major arts and crafts retailer, had occupied the 35,650-square-foot space on the far east side of the shopping center since 2010. Last April, its parent company, The Michaels Companies, announced it would not be converted into a Michaels store, and the business would eventually be shut down. Pat Catan’s closed its Mount Vernon location on Sept. 29.
After The Michaels Companies made its April announcement, Wildeman said Regency Properties knew exactly who to call.
“Big Lots was the tenant we went to when Pat Catans moved out,” she said. “This deal has been in the works for some time and we are excited for it to be executed.”
Wildeman did not know when Big Lots plans to open, or how many people the store will employ. Big Lots representatives could not be reached for comment late Friday.
Wildeman did note in a previous interview that retail stores tend to open around back-to-school season or the holidays, as their products are in high-demand during those times. The shopping center's next tenant will need time to renovate the property, stock inventory and train staff, she added.
Big Lots, which is headquartered in Columbus, has over 1,400 stores in 47 states. The company has 97 stores in Ohio, including locations in Newark, Heath, and Delaware. All are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., offering a mix of home decor, furniture, apparel and other household essentials.
Big Lots left Mount Vernon five years ago when Grubaugh said the property developer had “just decided to go a different route.” According to the Mount Vernon News, the developer decided not to renew the company’s lease.
“They had to find a new location, and we were unable to find a location at that time, for the size and the things that they needed,” Grubaugh said.
When she heard Big Lots wanted to return, Grubaugh said she wasn’t surprised.
“They loved being in Knox County before and really did not want to leave…” she said. “So I wasn’t surprised that they were coming back, but it was more so good news that it was able to finally work out.”
Big Lots will serve as one of Knox Village Square’s anchor tenants, alongside Gordmans and Burkes Outlet, which will soon fill the former J.C. Penney location. Wildeman said Burkes Outlet signed its deal in mid-December, although she is not sure when the company will move in.
J.C. Penney left its 1530 Coshocton Ave. location in the spring of 2018. Burkes Outlet is a national retail chain that sells clothing, accessories, beauty products and home decor.
Rural King was formerly a Knox Village Square anchor tenant, but the company decided to buy its end of the shopping center for $1.65 million in December. It is now considered a separate property, although it is still attached to the rest of the mall.
Regency Properties, based in Evansville, IN, owns and manages retail shopping centers in mid-sized cities across the country. The company “specializes in county seat communities,” according to its website. When considering tenants for shopping centers like Knox Village Square, Wildeman said many factors are considered.
“When a tenant moves out we reach out to tenants that we think would benefit the market. We do extensive market research to figure out which tenants would be a success in the county seat community. Then we reach out to the tenant,” Wildeman said.
“We pride ourselves on our relationships with our tenants. When an opportunity opens up we reach out to them and have a conversation about the opportunities.”
Regency Properties specializes in “necessity-based shopping,” Wildeman said, so that residents in mid-sized communities don’t have to drive out of town to shop for essential goods.
“We want to support that small community, so they don’t have to drive to the next town,” Wildeman said, “so that you guys keep the businesses there local and the money that’s coming into your town stays in your town.”
With the former Pat Catan’s and J.C. Penney properties about to be filled, Wildeman said Regency is proud of its work to keep Knox Village Square vibrant in recent years. She believes both new stores will serve the Knox County community well.
“I believe that Burkes Outlet and Big Lots will both be a wonderful addition to the community,” she said. “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get where we are today, but we are excited about the opportunity in this shopping center.”