There's been a new hardware store in Minot since the first of May, but it's understandable if you didn't know.
The Home Depot has decided to open a miniature, temporary store in a double-wide trailer in the site of the parking lot for their upcoming Minot store, which is expected to be ready for a grand opening in January.
"A lot of people get confused, thinking that this is the construction trailer for the new building," said Jason Barker, the store manager. "It's different, it's unique, it's fun. I'm used to having 200 to 300 associates to help manage and process and do things. We have 12 employees."
This “miniature” Home Depot store is accessible by turning onto 35th Avenue Southwest from South Broadway and making a left.
Some of those employees came with Barker from stores in Minnesota, where he managed a store in Minneapolis. Others were new hires who are from the Minot area. Barker said he wanted to maintain the Home Depot "culture" by bringing along others from the store.
"I guess you could say that I'm the brave one who said, 'yeah, I'll go,'" he said. Brave is one way to describe a move away from home to start something new, but grabbing an opportunity is another.
The store will be 106,000 square feet on the inside with another 18,000 square feet for the garden department and then roughly 100,000 square feet for an outside lumber yard, a rare feature for the chain. It will serve as a sort of hub for a smaller location opening in Williston and for other stores in western North Dakota, should the company decide to open more. Currently the only other store in North Dakota is about four and a half hours away in Fargo. That's where products not available in the double-wide will be shipped from if someone needsthem in Minot.
"We're excited to come to North Dakota," Barker said. "This is a new market. ... It's going to produce some challenges from a logistics standpoint ... We figured that there were going to be those kind of hiccups, hence one of the reasons why we didn't mind opening up the small store to kind of work through some of those things."
Unlike in Minneapolis, where there are transport hubs for other stores in the area, Barker or his employees will have to call up the store in Fargo, see if they have a product a customer wants and that it is in good enough shape. Then it will be paid for and shipped out to Minot.
There will be no shipping surcharge to the customer to get an item they want. Barker says that the company is "willing to eat that cost to get us in the market and let people know that, 'hey, we're here." Items should be delivered to the Minot store by noon the next day.
When the new store comes there will be much more than the tape-measures, screws, power-tools and a couple lawn mowers currently on hand in the double wide. The location will have at least four out-lots, with one of them confirmed to be a Holiday Inn gas station, which would then be directly across from one of the South Broadway Cenex stations. A McDonald's may also take a lot, but is unconfirmed.
In the meantime, Barker and his employees seem to enjoy the novelty of the cozy little store.
"It's kind of weird that we have an intercom system in our regular stores to contact people and everything but you pretty much don't need to do that in a double-wide," Barker said. "You just yell across the room. It's pretty exciting."