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MATTOON -- As the Christmas shopping season comes to a close, Rural King is preparing to move its Mattoon store to the Cross County Mall early in the New Year.

Rural King is finishing up renovations to the former Sears space at the east end of the mall and stocking the new shelves there in preparation for opening sometime in mid-January, said David Bailey, director of store planning for the Mattoon based Rural King company.

Bailey said the new store location along Broadway Avenue East will offer the same selection of farm and home merchandise that is available at the current location, 4216 Dewitt Ave., where the corporate headquarters and distribution center will remain after the store moves.

"If you were able to buy it over there, you should be able to buy it over here also," Bailey said.

One of the things that will set the new store location apart from the current one or any other Rural King store is a 60-foot steel awning that will be placed by the front entrance, Bailey said. This awning will cover a drive through where customers will be able to load merchandise or shuttle passengers while sheltered from inclement weather.

Owner Rural King looks to fill more mall spaces

The new Rural King location will have an exterior main entrance and an interior mall entrance at the same places as the former Sears store did, Bailey said. Cash registers will operate at both entrances. Bailey said that while the current Rural King location has multiple registers per lane, the new location will have one per lane.

"We will have a new register setup to allow better traffic flow," Bailey said, adding that this is a change that customers have requested.

Those walking through the mall will see seasonal merchandise displays in Rural King's mall entrance that will be changed throughout the year, Bailey said. The first department that they will see when they walk into the mall entrance will be pet supplies. Bailey said customers will still be welcome to bring their dogs with them to Rural King's new location.

In addition, Bailey said Rural King also has created a workshop at the northwest corner of the former Sears space for serving and repairing small engines and the company's line of RK Tractors. Customer parking spaces will be located by the workshop's overhead door.

Bailey said customers also will be able to drive through a "bullpen" on the north side of the building where Rural King will display fences, posts, and other merchandise that is stored outdoors. Seasonal outdoor merchandise will be displayed in front of the new store.

Rural King's new store location in Mattoon will measure just over 60,000 square feet in floor space in comparison to the just over 70,000 square feet at the current one, Bailey said. The smaller store size has not limited the selection of merchandise that will be available there, he said.

"If anything, we have had to better merchandise to make sure we can fit all our products in a smaller building," Bailey said. He added that the current location on Dewitt Avenue will become a "sample store and Innovation Center" for the company to try out new products and sales floor layouts.

Rural King purchased the Cross County Mall in fall 2017. The mall was previously owned by Regis Property Management Inc., headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Rural King initially announced plans to move its corporate office to the mall, but later opted to relocate the Mattoon store there instead.

Mattoon's new Rural King location will serve as the east anchor of the mall. The west anchor is J.C. Penney's. The central anchor, Carson's, closed in April as its parent company announced a series of closings. Rural King has been seeking new tenants for open mall storefronts, including the Scotty's Brewhouse restaurant that opened there earlier this month.

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Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @RobStroud

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