FARGO - Fourteen months after West Acres lost its Sears store, the large vacancy at Fargo's mall is back in business.
Best Buy will celebrate its grand opening at 9 a.m. Friday, June 8, occupying just over 50,000 square feet of the roughly 90,000-square-foot former Sears building.
It's a small move for the electronics retailer, which has operated since 1994 in a 45,000-square-foot standalone building just south of West Acres at 1615 38th St. S. But Chris Heaton, West Acres' vice president of property management, said it'll mean big things for Best Buy's Fargo presence.
"This store is a brand-new prototype for Best Buy," he said. "It's one of their latest and greatest rollouts as far as how the store is laid out and the inventory that's in there."
For example, Heaton said the new store will boast an "extremely diverse" appliance selection, something it didn't have room to offer before. The extra room also gives Best Buy the chance to spread out, meaning the store experience for customers will be more open.
"The store across the street, they were a little more condensed and had kind of outgrown it," Heaton said.
But he said it's not just for the benefit of the electronics store. According to Heaton, the short move from a standalone building to a prime anchor position connected to West Acres is a "win-win" for both sides.
"They're going to help us bring more people to the shopping center, and I think with the millions of customers that we already have coming into the center every year, we're going to help provide them with more foot traffic as well," he said.
The move first became an option in early April 2017 when Sears closed after roughly 45 years in business at West Acres. Heaton said mall officials first focused on a few months of preparations to get the former Sears ready for a new business, including demolishing a service garage. Ultimately, he said West Acres and Best Buy agreed last year that the move would be mutually beneficial.
But Friday's milestone doesn't mean work is over at the mall. Heaton said about 30,000 square feet of the north side of the former Sears building remains vacant. He wasn't ready to talk this week about possibilities for that yet-to-be-leased space, but said West Acres has a "really exciting concept" in mind.
Best Buy's move opens up the chain's previous Fargo building, which is also owned by West Acres. Heaton said the future of that property is up in the air, but officials are in talks with four or five interested parties that could eventually sign a lease.
"What will likely happen is the same thing that happened with Sears-that building will become multiple tenancies," he said.
For more information, visit https://stores.bestbuy.com/nd/fargo/3902-13th-ave-s-13.html