Updated: Landlord confirms no-frills decor store will replace Shopko

At Home’s first store in Washington state is now open in Puyallup at 301 37th Ave. SE. An open house, with gift card giveaways, is planned for Feb. 2.
At Home’s first store in Washington state is now open in Puyallup at 301 37th Ave. SE. An open house, with gift card giveaways, is planned for Feb. 2.

A busy intersection near Columbia Center mall will soon become the Lone Star corner of the Tri-Cities.

At Home Group Inc., a no-frills home decor retailer from Plano, Texas, is expecting to make the Kennewick Shopko store, 867 N. Columbia Center Blvd., its next Washington outpost.

It’s only fitting: The Lone Star flag flies over a neighboring steakhouse, Texas Roadhouse.

The Tri-City Herald has confirmed with the property owner that At Home has signed a letter of intent and is working to finalize the lease and construction drawings.

An At Home spokeswoman said they are not quite ready to make an announcement but hope to give more details soon.

Shopko will close its 106,000-square-foot Kennewick store by May 5 as the bankrupt retailer withdraws from the Pacific Northwest. It is closing its Prosser store, as well.

Shopko and other bankrupt retailers, including Sears and Toys R Us, are leaving large vacancies in the Columbia Center area, courtesy their respective corporate bankruptcies.

Columbia Center interest

At Home’s interest in the area signals that one space at least won’t stay dark for long, which bodes well for both jobs and retail tax receipts.

The Columbia Center area is already a magnet for home shoppers drawn by Costco, Macy’s, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Pier 1 Imports and a cluster of furniture stores.

At Home is a $1.1 billion company that bills itself as retailer on the move. It operates nearly 180 stores in 36 states.

It debuted in Washington in January, when it opened a store in Puyallup.

Stores that have been staples of the American shopping tradition for decades are closing in large numbers. Take a closer look at the reasons why it’s so hard for retailers to stay open.

Formerly known as Garden Ridge, At Home was re-branded in 2014 as a no-frills home decor warehouse built on the promise of bargain prices.

It began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “HOME” in 2016.

The public offering helped fuel an expansion campaign that aims to establish At Home as a key player in the lucrative but fragmented home decor industry. The sector is expected to reach $232 billion in sales by 2021, according to a January presentation to At Home investors.

Walmart is the largest player in the sector but even it commands only 11 percent of the market.

Walmart and the other top players — Target, T.J.Maxx/HomeGoods/Marshalls and Bed Bath & Beyond — collectively account for just a third of home furnishing sales.

Online-only retailers account for less than 10 percent of sales, it said in the presentation. It could expand its footprint to more than 600 locations, the company said.

Shopko closing exterior
Shopko is scheduled to close its 106,000-square-foot Kennewick store at 867 N. Columbia Center Blvd. in early May 2019. AT Home Inc., a no-frills home decor retailer from Plano, Texas is considering the building for its next Washington location. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

50,000 home decor products

The Lone Star flag flying over Texas Roadhouse aside, the Shopko spot appears a good fit for the prospective tenant.

At Home stores are typically about 110,000 square feet, and carry 50,000 different products, including housewares, furniture, textiles and rugs, wall decor, seasonal items and outdoor furnishings.

The Shopko property is owned by Corvallis WA LLC.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect the current property ownership.

Wendy Culverwell writes about local government and politics, focusing on how those decisions affect your life. She also covers key business and economic development changes that shape our community. Her restaurant column and health inspection reports are reader favorites. She’s been a news reporter in Washington and Oregon for 25 years.