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New names, products and jobs come to Polson

POLSON — New businesses are cropping up all around Polson, some in repurposed buildings and some in buildings constructed specifically for them.

Progress on the new Walmart Supercenter structure provided conversation in Polson for months. 

It’s been a rocky road for the Walmart Supercenter. Lake County First, a vocal group in opposition to the store and to uncontrolled growth in Polson, organized when they first heard of Walmart’s plans to build a larger store in October of 2005. 

A not-for-profit, grass-roots action committee, LCFfiled suit to oppose the city council’s June 2006 decision to annex and rezone property where Walmart wants to build. The lawsuit alleged the Polson City Council did not diligently review Walmart’s request for annexation, that it voted to annex the property with insufficient evidence and then failed to explain or document the reasons for its decision. The suit also said Walmart’s plans to access Polson’s water and storm drainage system are not within the requirement of law.

District Judge Nels Swandal heard the case in District Court and found against Lake County First, but they appealed in to the Montana Supreme Court, which also found against them in 2009.

Walmart Manager Dan DeWitt is excited about the new Walmart Supercenter. 

“It’ll be fun,” he said, adding Walmart Store Management personnel are on site now working with DeWitt on a staffing plan. 

As for new staff, “We’ve already started hiring 70 to 80 new employees,” DeWitt added.

Construction on the giant store is right on schedule for an Oct. 23 grand opening, DeWitt said

“It’s a five-week transition (from old to new store),” DeWitt said, with the regular store remaining open until Oct. 22. Employees will start moving product a little bit at a time as the grand opening moves closer. 

Another construction site locals is also on Highway 93. The old Regatta Pizza building was demolished, and AutoZone is building a new store next to McDonald’s. 

Tracey Houston, community and media relations at AutoZone’s Memphis, Tenn., headquarters, said the projected opening date is early August.

The store will carry auto parts and accessories and employ approximately 10 AutoZoners, both full and part-time. 

Another business to come into Polson was a Sears Hometown Outlet, which opened May 1 in the old True Value Hardware building.

A Sears Hometown Outlet means the business is locally owned and operated, according to owner Jill Sargent. The business sells appliances, tools, lawn/garden items and mattresses. 

All merchandise available at larger Sears stores can be ordered at Sargent’s store through Sears.com and delivered to the store.

Polson’s Sears offers delivery, and a Sears Service Tech is available but not stationed in Polson.  

“It’s going well,” Sargent said. “We’ve had a great response (to the store).”

Rumors circulated throughout Polson that Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply would occupy the present Polson Walmart building when the Walmart Supercenter opened. 

In April, Murdoch’s confirmed the rumors and issued a press release stating it would open a store in the Walmart building in 2014. 

At press time, no information was available on store size or number of employees. 

Murdoch’s sells ag supplies and fencing, animal health and feed items, tools, automotive, pet items, footwear, clothing, hardware, lawn and garden, tack, gifts and toys. They’re especially famous for their wall of jeans and gloves.

Murdoch’s has 24 retail store locations including Polson, throughout Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming. Distribution centers are located in Belgrade and Missoula, Mont., and Laramie, Wyo.

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