CORRECTION: Since the publication of this story on Aug. 15, Big Lots has issued a correction to its previously mentioned opening date. The store will open Oct. 10, a spokesperson told Knox Pages this week, with a soft opening scheduled for Sept. 3. A different spokesperson had told Knox Pages prior to the story's initial publication that Big Lots was opening Thursday, Aug. 20. This information was incorrect. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is in response to a reader-submitted question through Open Source, a platform where readers can submit questions to the staff.
MOUNT VERNON – Six years after it initially left Mount Vernon, Big Lots is set to return to the city this fall.
The company confirmed in an email that it would be opening its new location, at 1550 Coshocton Ave. in Knox Village Square, on Oct. 10. A soft opening has been scheduled for Sept. 3, a company spokesperson said.
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, Coshocton 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 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 this winter about the idea of having the business back.
“I think it’s very exciting that they are coming back to town…” Grubaugh said in a January interview, following the announcement of Big Lots' return. “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.”
It's unclear how many people Big Lots will employ at its new location. Company representatives said an official number would be available once the store opens in October.
Big Lots has spent the last several months renovating the 35,650-square-foot space on the far east side of Knox Village Square. The parking lot has been repaved, the interior has been remodeled, and a brand-new sign now lights up the exterior.
Big Lots will serve as an anchor tenant at Knox Village Square, alongside Burkes Outlet and Gordmans. Gordmans is set to close soon, however, after its parent company, Stage Stores, filed for bankruptcy in May.
“The increasingly challenging market environment was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which required us to temporarily close all of our stores and furlough the vast majority of our associates,” Michael Glazer, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement. “Given these conditions, we have been unable to obtain necessary financing and have no choice but to take these actions.”
It's unclear when Burkes Outlet will open in the former J.C. Penney location. The storefront is currently being renovated, and new exterior signage has already been installed, but company representatives could not be reached for comment this week on when it might open its doors.
Other stores in the shopping center include: Sally Beauty Supply, Hibbett Sports, Aaron's, Hunan Garden, Holiday Hair and GNC. After Gordmans leaves, six of the shopping center's 14 storefronts will be vacant.
Big Lots will fill the storefront left by Pat Catan's in September 2019. Knox County's lone major arts and crafts retailer closed its doors last fall after nearly 10 years in business.
Its parent company, The Michaels Companies, said the chain had “struggled in the face of industry headwinds” in recent years, and store employees speculated that the rise of e-commerce had likely led to its downfall. Pat Catan's employed 25 people in Mount Vernon.
Regency Properties, which owns Knox Village Square, said this winter it was thrilled to sign Big Lots as an anchor tenant. Big Lots was the first company Regency Properties turned to after Pat Catan's moved out, Marketing Director Jessica Wildeman said, and by Dec. 31, the deal was done.
“We are so very excited for Big Lots to join our shopping center in Mount Vernon,” Wildeman said in a January email. “We have other Big Lots locations in our portfolio and they are a wonderful tenant to have.”
Big Lots left its previous Mount Vernon location six 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 in January that 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.”