Get ready to save big money, Williston—for real this time.
More than three years after the original announcement, Menards is coming to Williston.
The hardware giant officially signed its contract for the Sand Creek Town Centre, according to Terry Metzler, operations manager of Granite Peak North Dakota and Tom Rolfstad, executive director of Williston Economic Development.
Metzler and Rolfstad said the Williston store is going to be a new concept store, making it one of the largest locations in the country. It will take up 18 acres of the Sand Creek development.
Rolfstad added that Menards has the largest market share in North Dakota among big box hardware stores with locations across the state. He said Home Depot has had mixed results while Lowe’s has been located primarily in the eastern part of the state.
“This won’t be any kind of shaved down, minor experience,” he said. “It should be the best Menards has to offer.”
A spokesperson for Menards could not be reached as of press time.
The Menards effect
With Menards signing, the planned retail at Sand Creek is expected to have more contracts signed.
Metzler said he signed six leases shortly after the big box store finalized. He has businesses ready to move into his “360” shopping center in Sand Creek including Sakura, a Japanese steak, seafood house and sushi bar.
“By Menards signing, a lot of others are locked in now,” he said.
Rolfstad sees the store as a significant staple for the future growth of Williston.
The city is looking as if it will maintain oil production for many years, setting it up to grow beyond the boom-bust phases it has been through in the past.
A name such as Menards in Williston will draw people from outside the city from parts of North Dakota and eastern Montana. The name alone will position the city for years of retail growth in the future.
“They realize this not just a boom or bust economy,” Rolfstad said. “We have a lot of wells to drill and we’ll be drilling thousands of wells for the next 20-30 years.”
Best for business
In Minot, Menards has been one of the signature stores for both the city and the corporate office.
With housing and workforce issues, corporate Menards was flying people in from its Wisconsin locations to keep the store running.
Williston is hoping its Menards can have the same impact on the region and corporation.
On the heels of the oil industry’s presence in western North Dakota, the entire state has benefited and was recently named the No. 3 pro-business state by the American Economic Development Institute and Pollina Corporate Real Estate Inc.
“North Dakota’s supportive business climate stimulates job creation, which in turn leads to a stronger, more diversified economy,” said Gov. Jack Dalrymple.
On top of that the state has one of the fastest growing economies and housing markets in the nation. Williams County was recently named the fastest growing county in terms of housing development according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Four North Dakota counties ranked in the top five and eight made the top-100 list.
Williston itself was named the fastest growing micropolitan city in the nation this year.
With the growth data to support it and the success of Minot, the decision for Menards gained some clarity in 2013.
“I think they recognize the building and housing market in Williston and the demand for their product,” Rolfstad added.
Coming to a decision
Back on April 5, 2011 the Williston City Commission held a special meeting and approved the Menards project in front of a standing-room only crowd.
“Williston is turning the corner on long-awaited retail development,” said Mayor Ward Koeser in 2011.
The store was set to begin construction in summer 2011 and open at some point in 2012.
But Menards never broke ground.
By September 2011 the proposed 200,000 square-foot facility was still a vacant piece of prairie land.
One of Metzler’s other projects, the Harvest Hills subdivision, would have rooftops before Menards had a bulldozer.
According to reports from the Williston Herald in 2011, word from Menards was very little, only saying it had “nothing to report at this time.”
Metzler told the Herald talks were still positive with Menards and Rolfstad said the city was never told the retail giant would back out.
More than three years later, the vision of Metzler and Rolfstad came to fruition.
Metzler said the hold up was simply a extension of the paperwork and contract, which Rolfstad thought could have been the company finalizing workforce and housing plans.
“A lot of it has been internal to Menards,” Rolfstad said. “We really haven’t been privy to that knowledge...clearly they had to take their time to think this through.”
Metzler said Granite Peak did several informal surveys of residents in Williston and found retail was the biggest want.
More so, the name that kept coming up was Menards and the developer stuck with the hardware store through the thick and thin to land it in Sand Creek.
“We could have expedited the process and went with someone else,” Metzler said. “But the people here wanted Menards. They are coming out here. We have signed off on the contract.”