The curious saga of Menards continues.
The company has been running TV “Save big money at Menards” ads in the metro area for years – even though the nearest stores are in St. Joseph, Sedalia and Topeka. Although the chain of home-improvement stores is most heavily concentrated in the upper Midwestern states such as Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, its hundred of stores are generally found anywhere north of a line from Wichita east to Columbus, Ohio.
With the notable exception of the Kansas City area.
A year ago, the city of Independence was lined up to change that, aiming to get a store at the prime, undeveloped northeast corner of Interstate 70 and Little Blue Parkway. The Planning Commission rezoned the area and approved a preliminary development plan, and the matter was headed for final City Council approval. It would have opened in 2014. Then in December the company pulled out, and it suggested that expansion plans were on hold.
“ ... we are a family-owned business and with the Obama administration scaring the dickens out of all small businesses in the USA at present, we have decided not to risk expansion until things are more settled,” a spokesman told The Examiner at the time.
Still, a couple of weeks ago, Council Member Jim Schultz told me he still hopes the project can happen, and on Tuesday Greg Martinette with the city of Grain Valley told the Grain Valley Chamber of Commerce that Menards is back in play. Grain Valley – and probably everyone else, he conceded – would love to talk.
“They had pulled out of the region. Now they’re back,” he said.
Regardless of comments about not wanting to risk expansion, the company has kept adding many locations. It’s just opened stores outside Cincinnati and Detroit, a new store is going up in Rochester, Minn., it just bought an old Wal-Mart site in Youngstown, Ohio, it just got a tax-increment financing deal in Richmond Heights, Mo. – it also has a scant presence in the St. Louis area – and it’s looking for a tax abatement in Jeffersonville, Ind.
Even Pierre, S.D., gets a Menards in 2015. One wonders if Eastern Jackson County, which figures to be a pretty good market for a company like Menards and has some great locations, might have one by then.
Good work, farewell
It’s sad to note the passing of the Blue Springs Business Association.
The group’s board last week voted to dissolve and turn its assets over the Downtown Alive! effort.
“The BSBA started out as an association of downtown Blue Springs businesses, and it seems fitting that in the end the organization has been a sponsor and supporter of Downtown Alive! to revitalize the downtown Blue Springs community,” President Bill Essmann said in a statement. The group had been around since 1985, supporting local groups such as Hope House and Rainbow Center, and it sponsored and organized the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting.
Page 2 of 2 - “As other groups and organizations have grown to fulfill these obligations, the BSBA is proud to pass the baton into the future,” Essmann said.
The folks who do the patient, persistent work over many years in such groups often no unnoticed, and Essmann made sure to point that secretary Carol Garner and treasurer Ken Billups Jr. “have been the heart and backbone of this organization for many years.” They deserve a tip of the cap.
Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s business reporter and editor. Reach him at email@example.com or 816-350-6313. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_Fox or @FoxEJC.