WELLSVILLE — The Allegany County Board of Legislators confirmed Wednesday that Runnings Inc., a Minnesota-based chain focusing on home, farm and outdoors equipment, will purchase the former Kmart building in Riverwalk Plaza.
In a statement Wednesday, board Chairman Philip Stockin referred the the store as a “true ‘destination’ retail store,” which would bring about 40 retail jobs to the area.”
Legislators thanked several people and groups for bringing the project to town, including Dr. Craig Clark and the Allegany County Industrial Development Agency, Wellsville Mayor Randy Shayler, Clint Gilkey, the Wellsville Economic Development Board and property owner L.C. Whitford Company.
“Economic development is a collaborative effort, and the Allegany County Board of Legislators is proud of the teamwork exhibited by our development partners in this project,” Stockin said. “To the team at Runnings, Inc., welcome to Allegany County.”
Founded in Minnesota in 1947 as an auto parts store, the company now has 57 stores in eight states. The chain came to New York in 2014. The closest area locations are Jamestown and Lockport.
The Riverwalk Plaza was built in the mid-1990s by Wellsville’s L.C. Whitford Co., becoming home to anchor stores Kmart and Tops as well as other retail and nonprofit entities over the years. The Kmart store moved from another plaza in the village to the site. The firm operated there for almost a quarter century before closing in 2019 as the company declined from almost 2,500 stores when the Riverwalk site opened to just nine — with three in the continental U.S. — in 2022.
Runnings would be the only chain department store in Allegany County since the closure of Kmart, with county residents needing to travel to other counties or shop online for many goods that are not sold in independent and smaller chain store locations in the Wellsville area.
Runnings will renovate the vacant 94,000-square-foot building which sits on 5 acres. Local officials noted the company has a long history of purchasing vacant retail stores and renovating them to serve the needs of new customers.
“As we looked at our plans for the plaza, we felt that an important piece of the expansion was finding a strong retail partner for the building,” said Brad Whitford, president of L.C. Whitford. “We’re very excited to finally have Runnings on board. It will be a momentous thing for Wellsville.”
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