Sporting goods chain considers taking over Sears space

Scheels store logo

Scheels All Sports, the North Dakota sporting goods retailer powerhouse, is interested in possibly taking over Rochester's soon-to-close Sears store.

"We've been in talks with the Apache Mall, but nothing's confirmed as of yet," said Jason Lonney, Scheels' vice president of store development. "It's in the mall's hands to put something together for us."

The 133,000-square-foot, two-story Sears store, which anchors Apache Mall in southwest Rochester, is slated to close in January. A liquidation sale has been underway since October. About 49 employees work at the store.

Apache Mall General Manager Kim Bradley said Wednesday that she couldn't comment on any possible tenants or deals involving the Sears store.

Scheels has 24 locations in nine states. The popular sporting goods chain has four stores in Minnesota, in Mankato, St. Cloud, Moorhead and Eden Prairie.


Lonney says Scheels has never adapted a former Sears store before, but it would certainly be possible.

"I'm sure there would have to be some changes to the store to accommodate our concept," he said.

The timing of any sort of acceptance or rejection of a deal is unknown at this point.

"The mall has indicated that Sears is completing its term in January. That's the most we know today," said Lonney. "We're waiting to see how everything shakes out."

Word that Scheels might be opening a store in Rochester spurred a lot of excitement among the chain's local fans.

The Fargo, N.D.-based company is known for creating elaborate stores that carry an extensive selection of sporting goods and more. The world's largest sporting goods store is the 295,000-square-foot Scheels' store in Nevada. (By comparison, Rochester's Fleet Farm store is 273,800 square feet.) Some of its stores feature a ferris wheel inside them.

Speculation about the future of the Apache Mall's Sears store kicked off in early 2012 when Sears announced it would sell and close it and 10 other stores for $270 million to General Growth Properties Inc., the owner of Apache Mall.

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