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Big Bear store in Great Falls to close - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Big Bear store in Great Falls to close

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The Big Bear Sporting Goods store in Great Falls has been sold and will close, a co-owner confirmed Monday. 

Chuck McKenzie, co-owner of Big Bear, confirmed to MTN News on Monday that the Great Falls location has been sold and will close, but did not provide an exact date.

McKenzie did say the closing sale will begin on Feb 14. 

McKenzie said that all Big Bear employees have been notified. McKenzie said that Big Bear has been open for more than 50 years in Great Falls, and the closure will be the "end of an era."

The Big Bear store in Billings told employees last week that it will be closing permanently. McKenzie said that he is unable to comment on the Billings closure pending resolution of their claim with the insurance company.

RELATED: Big Bear Sports Center store in Billings to close permanently

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Also on Monday, North 40 Outfitters announced it has finalized a lease to take over the building that formerly was the Kmart on the west side of Great Falls.

The Kmart store closed several months ago.

North 40 also announced that it has secured the rights to the building next door, which currently is Big Bear Sporting Goods. 

"I really believe North 40's announcement today will be positive for Great Falls," McKenzie said.

Remodeling and construction plans for the new North 40 store are still in the preliminary stages, according to North 40 co-owner Wayne Wike.

In a press release, Wike said: "We saw an opportunity to expand our business to further serve the city of Great Falls and the wider region surrounding our community here. This will be an exciting, substantial addition for our company and city."

The existing North 40 store at 4400 10th Avenue South will remain open.

The second location will be approximately 82,000 square feet, when the remodeling is complete. Wike said the remodel could begin as early as March, but an opening date for the new store has not yet been set.

North 40 - formerly known as Big R - currently has two stores in Montana, five in Washington, and three in Idaho.

Here is the full text of the press release:

CSWW Inc., dba North 40 Outfitters, headquarter in Great Falls, MT, confirms that it has finalized a lease to occupy the former Kmart location on 1000 3rd Street NW and plans to open a second North 40 at that location. They have also secured the rights to the building at 121 NW Bypass, where Big Bear Sporting Goods is the current tenant. The remodeling and construction plans are still preliminary at this point, according to Wayne Wike, co-owner of North 40 Outfitters.

“We saw an opportunity to expand our business base to further serve the city of Greta Falls and the winter region surrounding our community here,” said Wike. He continued, “This will be an exciting, substantial addition for our company and city.”

Wike is pleased to bring additional North 40 store to Great Falls. He says, “The economic indicators are strong. We will rely on teamwork to make the remodel as smooth as possible.” He said remodel could begin as early as March, however an opening date for the new North 40 Outfitters location has not been set.

North 40 Outfitters, formerly known as Big R Stores, has maintained a product line focused on farm and ranch needs. Started as Big R in 1997, the company rebranded itself in 2014.

While still focusing on the core farm and product lines hat support many farmers and ranchers in our region, in recent years North 40 Outfitters has strengthened its offerings and now includes expanded product lines of sporting good, clothing and footwear, automotive, tools, pet, lawn and garden, and hardware.

The second, new location on the Northwest Bypass will have many similar items as the North 40 Outfitters location located at 4400 10th Avenue South. When the remodel is complete, the new store will be approximately 82,000 square feet.

Wike added, “We take great pride in listening to and adapting to the needs of our community and our valued customers.”

North 40 Outfitters currently has 10 stores, with two in Montana, five in Washington, and three in Idaho. Presently, the company employs approximately 750 people, a mixture of full and part-time employees, and hires accordingly, depending on the level of business. 

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