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Runnings store up and running

WILLMAR -- Customers will find greater product selections and expanded departments when Runnings Farm and Fleet store in Willmar opens this morning at its larger location in the former Wal-Mart store at 3031 First St. S.

Runnings officials in Marshall, where the company has headquarters, announced in November that the move would take place in early 2008. Runnings owns and operates 29 stores in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.

The former Wal-Mart building became available after the new Wal-Mart Supercenter opened Oct. 10, 2007, on 19th Avenue Southeast.

Mike Witt, manager of the Runnings store in Willmar, said Runnings has previously moved stores into six former Wal-Mart buildings "when it makes sense, and it made sense in Willmar. This is our seventh Wal-Mart building that we've moved into.''

Witt said the former site at 1303 First St. S., with approximately 15,000 square feet, was too small, and parking and traffic flow were a challenge. The new site has 87,000 square feet.

"We just couldn't serve our customers the way Runnings wanted to serve the customers there,'' said Witt.

"We're in a great location. Wal-Mart's just been a pleasure to work with.''

Runnings offers farm supplies, clothing, power tools, hand tools, lawn and garden products, automotive supplies, and supplies for home improvement, electrical and plumbing needs. Various departments, including sporting goods, clothing and lawn and garden, have been expanded, according to Witt.

"We're just trying to make everything available that our customers need,'' he said.

The Willmar store will have about 35 full-time and part-time employees.

Witt said Runnings celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2007. The Runnings store in Willmar had been located since 1997 in the building formerly occupied by Orcheln Farm and Home.