Will Harbor Freight attract more retailers to old Kmart?

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS Richard Goins, right, superintendent of Marco Contractors Inc., stands in front of the large garage door-sized hole that should be the entrance to the new Harbor Freight, coming to one section of the former Kmart store in Millbrook Plaza near Mill Hall.

MILL HALL — Everyone who drives by the Millbrook Plaza along busy Hogan Boulevard may notice a change taking place at the now-empty Kmart store.

There’s a large, garage-door-sized hole in the wall near the former garden section at the east end of the building.

It’s because a Harbor Freight store is coming.

Richard Goins, superintendent of Marco Contractors Inc., said he thinks adding the tool store is good for do-it-yourself homeowners and businesses alike, what with Harbor Freight’s reputation as a less costly store from which to purchase tools.

On Tuesday, multiple construction vehicles sat outside the building, while the sounds of construction were heard inside.

Marco Contractors has been hired to turn an 18,000-square-feet space into the new store, Goins said.

He said he has built other Harbor Freight stores in different states across the country, and no matter where he builds one, members of that community always look forward to it.

He believes the store could open as early as Dec. 15.

A new Harbor Freight store could attract other tenants to the old Kmart building, said Mike Flanagan, president and CEO of the Clinton County Economic Partnership.

“We’re glad Harbor Freight is coming here. They’ve advertised for a couple positions already,” he said.

Declining to name any entities, Flanagan said the Millbrook Plaza owner, Zamagias Properties of Pittsburgh, has received interest in some of the remaining 80,000 square feet of commercial space from more than one business.

“I think the idea is to break up the space and have at least two more, or maybe three more tenants there,” Flanagan said. “Of course, that’s up to Zamagias, and we’re here to help if they need it.”

After nearly 30 years in business in Clinton County — including in the Clinton Plaza in Lock Haven — Kmart formally closed its Millbrook Plaza store last June, one of hundreds of Kmart stores to close nationwide amid slumping sales for bricks and mortar, big-box retailers trying to compete with the explosive growth of internet sales.

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