BILLINGS — BILLINGS - February will a big month for Albertsons grocery stores in Yellowstone County.
The Boise, Idaho-based grocer is planning a grand opening at 9 a.m. Feb. 18 for its new Billings store at 5137 Grand Ave.
Also, about 13 miles away, Albertsons is planning to break ground Feb. 8 on a new store in Laurel at the site of the shuttered Reese & Ray's IGA, the Laurel Outlook reported on its Facebook page.
The two new stores would expand the footprint of the area's largest to seven stores in Billings and eight total in Yellowstone County.
The new Billings store has been in the works for more than five years but hit delays after WinCo opened a huge discount grocery store on 24th Street West in Billings. Then the pandemic hit, further delaying the project until plans were resubmitted with the city at the end of 2021.
In Laurel, the arrival of Albertsons will fill a major hole in the city's southern retail corridor. Reese & Ray's closed in May 2022, and the building had been home to other grocery stores, including Jan's IGA and Safeway, for roughly a half-century.
The Laurel store is expected to hold a grand opening Oct. 23, according to The Outlook.
Albertsons expansion in Yellowstone County comes at a time of great change for the company. Last October, rival Kroger announced it would acquire Albertsons, sparking concerns about a merger of the nation's two largest grocery chains.
The proposed deal still needs approval by federal anti-trust regulators, and it's unclear what impact, if any, it could have on operations in Montana.