LIMA — Big R Stores, a new general merchandise retailer, will open on Nov. 30 in the vacant Wal-Mart building in Lima’s Clocktower Plaza.
The store will provide Lima shoppers with apparel, pet products, sporting goods, equine products, lawn and garden items, home goods, farm supplies and more.
“We carry 80,000 different items,” Joda Crabtree, co-owner of Big R stores, said in August when the company announced it would be opening its first Ohio store in Lima. “We pretty much have every category covered, so we’re a one-stop shop for a lot of things.”
The announcement of the store’s opening date came on the same day that The University of Cincinnati Economics Center announced Lima is one of the few cities in Ohio expecting to see stronger retail growth during the holidays.
Researchers are predicting a 1.54 percent increase in retail spending in Ohio during the November-December period. Last year’s total rise was some 2.2 percent, after an increase of some 4 percent reported the previous year.
However, sales outlooks are stronger in Youngstown, Mansfield and Lima than statewide or in Ohio’s largest metro regions. By metro area, the growth projections are: Youngstown, 6.2 percent; Mansfield 4.9; Lima 3.3; Columbus 3.1, Cincinnati 3; Cleveland and Akron 2.1 each: Dayton 1.7 and Toledo 0.5.
Jennifer Shand, the study author for UC, said consumer shifts to spending for entertainment, travel and other experiences rather than buying goods could be a factor, besides continued mobile and online sales growth that includes spending with out-of-state retailers. There’s also been a leveling-off in some economic measures after post-recession rises.
The forecast in conjunction with the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants uses sales data, employment and wage figures, consumer confidence and a variety of other economic indicators to project spending.
The Washington-based National Retail Federation expects holiday spending this year to be up across the country by 3.6 percent, to $655.8 billion. Growth a year ago was 3 percent.
In Lima, Big R will join existing businesses in Clocktower Plaza such as Planet Fitness, Dollar Tree, Gamestop and Pet Supplies Plus. The store will occupy 110,000 square feet of the plaza, which has nearly 238,000 square feet in total.
According to Crabtree, Big R has the inventory of big box stores such as Wal-Mart and Meijer, but places a greater emphasis on customer service.
“We’ll help carry your stuff out the door and load it into your car just to go above and beyond what you’d normally get at a big box retailer,” he said. “We treat our customers and employees like they are part of the family.”
“Steady growth … for the holiday retail sales within Ohio this year, although it is slower than in previous years,” study author Jennifer Shand of UC said.