Kuna Mayor Greg Nelson told the Kuna Chamber of Commerce recently that he had reached out to Bi-Mart about the possibility of opening a store in Kuna.
At first, my eyebrows went up. Then they went down. I think they’re back up again.
Folks who have been to Emmett might know what Bi-Mart is. Bi-Mart is a discount department store that sells just about everything imaginable. Last week’s Bi-Mart newspaper advertising insert shows jeans, vacuum cleaners, LED TVs, hiking boots, shotguns and ammo, office and home furniture, kitchen appliances, hardware, cameras, camping equipment and groceries. They even have a pharmacy.
“Each Bi-Mart is stocked with over 40,000 items that are specially chosen for your Northwest lifestyle and pocketbook,” according to Bi-Mart’s website. “We take a ‘deep discount’ approach to merchandising brand name goods, striving to offer a wide selection of top quality merchandise at low everyday prices.”
Started in 1955 in Yakima, Wash., Bi-Mart now has 72 stores in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Bi-Mart is a membership store, and members pay a $5 lifetime family fee. In 2004, Bi-Mart was purchased by its employees and offers an employee stock ownership plan.
I would be in favor of a Bi-Mart in Kuna. Not only would it keep Kuna residents shopping in Kuna, it would also offer employment opportunities.
First of all, I think we have to face reality. Kuna will get a Wal-Mart — someday. I think it’s going to be more like 20 years down the road, though, before we get a Wal-Mart, a Home Depot, a Target. We just don’t have enough residents or rooftops for a big-box to build a store. Plus, why wouldn’t a big-box store simply build a store a little farther up the road and attract not only Kuna residents but also Meridian and Nampa residents?
I think we need only look at Mesa, Ariz., to see that this 250,000-population suburb of Phoenix only recently started getting such commercial amenities like big-box stores.
I think Kuna will get all of those things, but we’re going to end up needing to look a lot more like modern-day Mesa before we get a second look from some of these national chains.
So what to do in the meantime? Do we just wait for the next 20 years and continue to spend our dollars in Meridian, Boise and Nampa to buy a pair of blue jeans or a camera?
I don’t think so. I think it’s wise to reach out to retailers in the meantime.