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Sportsman’s Warehouse aims for East Wenatchee

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EAST WENATCHEE — A national sporting goods chain has announced plans to open a 49,000-square-foot store by early next year in the soon-to-be vacated Sears space at Wenatchee Valley Mall.

Sportsman’s Warehouse, based in Utah, said Tuesday it would expand into East Wenatchee with its 49th store in 15 states. It will be the sixth store for the company in Washington state.

Wenatchee Valley Mall officials confirmed that after months of talks Sportsman’s Warehouse signed a lease for the Sears space. Sears is set to close mid-August after an 80-year presence in the Wenatchee Valley.

Mall execs said a new Sears store in a smaller format — a 10,813-square-foot Sears Hometown Store — would open at the mall and sell Sears products, including Craftsman and Kenmore brands. Owner of the new Hometown Store is Clifton Phillips, Moses Lake, who owns four other Hometown Stores, including those in Moses Lake and Ephrata.

The store will occupy the combined spaces of the PacSun and Nu Art inside the mall and would be open by early- to mid-October, said General Manager Dawn Collings. PacSun has already closed in the mall and Nu Art is set to close at the end of July.

We’re thrilled to welcome these new stores and keep the Sears name in our mall,” said Collings. “From our standpoint, it’s a win-win situation.”

The lease with Sportsman’s Warehouse means that one of the mall’s largest spaces will be vacant only for the months it takes to remodel for the new tenant, said Collings. The store is expected to open in spring 2014 and could hire from 45 to 70 workers, according to company spokeswoman Karen Seaman.

Why East Wenatchee?” she said. “It’s an area filled with great recreational opportunities and with folks who use the things we specialize in.”

Sportsman’s Warehouse sells national brands of sporting goods that include gear for hunting, fishing, archery, camping, boating, along with knives and tools, boots and outdoor clothing. The stores also offer instruction and how-to workshops related to outdoor activities. The company also operates an online store.

Sportsman’s Warehouse emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009 after closing 23 stores and selling 15 to a Canadian company. Several Washington stores were closed, including those in Spokane, Lacey and Vancouver. The resulting 23-outlet chain has since grown to 49 stores.

We’re excited to open a store in Wenatchee,” said Sportsman’s Warehouse CEO John Schaefer. “The area has a strong outdoor heritage, and I’m sure that we will become an active, contributing partner of this great community.”

The closest Sportsman’s Warehouse to East Wenatchee is in Kennewick, with other stores in Federal Way, Puyallup, Silverdale and Vancouver.

Sears announced in May that it would close its East Wenatchee store, which opened in downtown Wenatchee in 1934 and moved to East Wenatchee in 1973. The store was one of the original anchors of the Wenatchee Valley Mall.

For the last two months, the 59-employee store has held a closeout sale to clear away inventory before the store shuts down for good in August. The store’s lease with the mall ends Aug. 31.

Sears Hometown Stores, an affiliate of the Sears Holding Co. that owns Sears and Kmart stores, typically have a local owner and are located in smaller cities. The new East Wenatchee store would be one of 20 to operate in the state, including stores in Ephrata, Moses Lake and Ellensburg.

Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or . Read his blog Everyday Business. follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.