Opening scheduled for January 2017
OROVILLE — After months of rumors, representatives of both Prince’s Center and the Country Store verify that the Country Store will be the center’s newest tenant, taking over the space that once held Prince’s and Hughes’ Department Stores.
George Arnold, Director of Retail Operations, has been in town preparing the store, with Jim Prince and some of the staff who helped the Prince Family with the inventory reduction sale over this past summer.
Arnold said the 38,000 square feet of retail space will make this Country Store, their company’s 13th store, one of their larger operations. He said the latest expansion of Princes, which once held Ace Hardware, is being converted to a warehouse. Evidence of the change can be seen as the doors on the northeast end have been converted to a roll-up door for loading and unloading things like feed into customer’s vehicles. A canopy by these doors will be added next spring, according to Arnold.
“We sell a lot of things like pet and livestock feed, hay, seeds, fertilizer and animal supplements. We can load it into your vehicle at the store or deliver it to your farm or home,” said Arnold.
“We will also continue to stock many of the items that were in Prince’s, like Ace Hardware, paints, toys, sporting goods, clothes, gifts, lawn care and patio items,” he said, adding that the popularity of the fabric section means the Country Store will be putting in a fabric section as well, even though that will be a first for the Country Store.
“We have had a lot of communication with past vendors and Jim and Marilyn (Prince) have been a big help in planning what we will carry. They’ve been a great resource,” he said.
While the store will carry Ace Hardware, it will not have quite the selection once held at the department store.
“We will have a mix of products, more geared to the community’s everyday needs. We won’t have a lot of the extras, but we can always order them and get it here fast,” said Arnold, adding that the store will continue to stock things like plumbing, electrical and RV, but maybe not in the amounts stocked by Hughes’.
Arnold promises four aisles worth of sporting goods to satisfy locals and tourists seeking gear for water sports. He also says there will be basic auto parts selection, as that isn’t their expertise.
“We want to take advantage of being so close to the lake with the sporting goods, but there’s a full service auto parts dealer across the street and we want to concentrate on the things we do best,” said Arnold.
Clothing will include workwear like Carhartt, Dickie and Wrangler, but Arnold expects to get in more fashion wear after the store has been open awhile.
“We will have clothes and shoes for everyone from young to old… from tennis shoes to work boots,” he said. “Some of the fashion will be here later because much of it needs to be ordered from the vendors more than three months in advance.”
While the plan is to open in early January 2017, Arnold said if they can open sooner they will do so. However, it takes time to get in inventory and some products that would normally have been ordered by now, will probably be delayed.
Jim Prince was helping Arnold last Monday and said he was excited about the Country Store moving in.
“They’ll be good for our community and our employees,” said Prince, whose family has been in business in Oroville for over 80 years.
Prince added, “I’m very pleased to be working with the Country Store. I think they are the right fit for the community and they know how to take care of customers and employees.”
Arnold said Princes’ and the Country Store have a lot in common and that his brand started in 1934.
“Prince’s and the Country Store started within a year of each other. There is lots to be said about businesses that were established in that era. I just want to say the Prince name stays on the building, forever and ever,” said Arnold.
He said that the “racking” for the warehouse had arrived on Monday and that they expected the forklifts to arrive on Tuesday.
“There will be a lot of activity here next week. I am super excited,” said Arnold who has been working for the Country Store for over 30 years.
The family-owned Prince’s Center opened in 1978 as a grocery store and department store. It currently has Aiken’s Harvest Foods on the grocery side. Arnold said he met the general manager for Aiken’s and is excited to have them next door.
“I think we will be really good partners, I think our businesses will compliment each other and be able to draw in customers for each other,” he said.
The Country Store has locations in Burlington, Wash.; Central Spokane, Wash.; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Colville, Wash.; Freeland, Wash.; Mount Vernon, Wash.; North Spokane, Wash.; Oak Harbor, Wash.; Sedro Woolley, Wash.; Spokane Valley, Wash.; Stanwood, Wash. and Stevensville, Mont. Further information on the Country Store can be found at countrystore.net.
Editor’s Note: The County Store hires locally, according to Arnold. It is seeking employees and has an advertisement in this week’s newspaper.