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Harbor Freight Tools is negotiating with owners of the former Kmart building, 4010 W. Garriott, a spokeswoman for the retail chain said. The business is looking to move in and open by mid-2020 if a deal is reached.

ENID, Okla. — Harbor Freight Tools is negotiating with ownership of the old Kmart building, 4010 W. Garriott, a spokeswoman for the retail chain said, and looking to move in and open by mid-2020 if a deal is reached.

The spokeswoman said no other information currently is available, and with talks still ongoing she cautioned any plans are subject to change.

Headquartered in Calabasas, Calif., Harbor Freight has more than 1,000 store locations across the U.S., according to the company's website. The retail chain sells a variety of tools, equipment, parts and accessories.

Enid retail consultant Rickey Hayes, founder of Retail Attractions, LLC, is hired by the city of Enid to help bring new businesses to town.

"I can tell you that Enid's retail environment is dynamic, and we have multiple tenants looking at it right now," Hayes said, adding that a number of factors — including the age of the building, location of the market — can make for a harder sell.

"We're in a scenario where construction cost and and rent factors with these guys in tertiary markets is a tough deal to crack," he said. "There's a ton of risk when you're remodeling an old building because it's just so expensive to do."

If Harbor Freight ultimately does decide to open up at the former Kmart location, it won't fill all four walls on its own. Any tenant is likely to have neighbors, and it's important who those neighbors are, Hayes said.

"Co-tenancy is crucial to almost all the national guys, and they're very particular about who is in the building with them," Hayes said. "In a space like this, where you've got multiple tenants sharing walls, it's critical they get the right mix."

TLM Realty has been working for months with businesses interested in the space. "It's great to hear they're having some success with that," Enid Regional Development Alliance director Lisa Powell said.

She doesn't doubt Enid's economic viability, or the rich retail opportunity it provides, even when things don't seem to go the city's way.

"I know it confuses the public when they see stores like Dillard's close, and that gives the impression that we don't have good retail market or a good economy here in Enid," Powell said, but businesses are coming to the table, intrigued enough to take the time to talk.

Further east, Hideaway Pizza, Colton's Steak House and a Jiffy Trip gas station are on board for The District redevelopment project at the southeast corner of Cleveland and Garriott.

This is all paints a picture Enid can feel optimistic about, she said. Still, the lot that formerly housed Kmart is empty, and there's no guarantee that will change.

"There's no ink dry anywhere on any of this," she said. "Until you close a deal and have ink on paper, anything can happen. That's always my cautionary tale."

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Willetts is education and city reporter for the Enid News & Eagle.
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