Work is underway at the new Runnings location in the former Central Market grocery store on West Main Street in Mandan, with the owners expecting to open the 32,000 square feet of retail space later this month. 

The relocation and expansion of Runnings in Mandan is on track for mid-to-late July. The project will nearly triple the floor space of the retailer and double the number of employees.

The new store will allow for the expansion of every department, said Dennis Jensen, director of marketing and e-commerce for Runnings.

“We really have been receiving quite a bit of demand from our customers to offer more clothing and more footwear, more of everything we offer,” Jensen said. “We’re hoping that this building is going to give us what they like.”

Runnings took ownership of the former Central Market property on Jan. 31. It will give the home, farm and outdoors store about 32,000 square feet of retail space. The current Runnings building at 3817 Memorial Highway, which has housed the business since 2001, is 11,600 square feet.

“At 11,000 square foot there’s only so much space you can deal with,” Jensen said.

Runnings bought the former Central Market property at 504 W. Main St., the former Thrifty White Drug property at 511 First St. NW and seven other parcels from the city for about $1 million. The renovation project is estimated to cost another $1 million.

Updates included a new roof, central air and electrical, ceiling tile and LED lights, concrete polishing, restroom renovations and work on the loading dock and dock equipment. The Thrifty White building will become a warehouse of about 15,785 square feet. An area between the two buildings will be fenced for outdoor merchandise such as water tanks and fencing panels.

Workers most recently focused on putting in shelving, Jensen said, and the exterior work is nearly done. The move itself is a process that could involve workers from several of the company’s stores in the Upper Midwest. The current store will stay open until the merchandise is moved.

“We call in the cavalry,” Jensen said. “One store is moved to the other location and no one shuts down. Our store does not close.”

Help with the move will come first from employees at the Mandan and Bismarck stores. Then, as stores can spare them, help will come from northern South Dakota, the rest of North Dakota and possibly Minnesota.

“It’s a busy time for us,” Jensen said, “but we can’t say no to a store that’s in need.”

The July move date keeps the relocation on its projected timeline.

“You don’t remain in business 72 years without having some very strong partners to help you out,” Jensen said. “It really is a testament to the folks we partner with, our employees. We all just have a plan, and we try to work as hard as we can to meet that plan.”

The expansion will add about 12 full-time and part-time positions, bringing that total to 25.

Jensen said the decision to expand was made through input from customers.

“That’s where it starts,” he said. “The more demand we get from customers, the more we have to really look at our offerings to them. It’s because of the support we’ve had in the community for so long. That really allowed us to look at a larger building.”

The former grocery store and drug store had been vacant since December 2013 and July 2014, respectively. The city in 2017 purchased the properties for $1.5 million, using money from a city settlement with BNSF Railway for an underground fuel spill. Money in the Mandan Supplemental Environmental Projects Trust is earmarked for such projects.

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(Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com)