MATTOON -- Managers from 109 Rural King stores in 13 states are scheduled to attend a meeting Tuesday through Friday in the former Sears location, inside the Cross County Mall.
Rural King purchased the Cross County Mall last fall and announced plans to move its Store Support Center home office into the old Sears building, at the east end of the mall. The Store Support Center is currently located in the same facility as the company's Mattoon Store No. 1 and its Mattoon Distribution Center at 4216 DeWitt Ave., on the west side of town.
Sue Francis, marketing manager for Rural King, said via email that the company has hosted bi-annual store manager meetings for the last several years. She said these meetings have been held at the current Store Support Center and at the Suite Dreams Hotel.
"We are hosting (the upcoming) meeting at the former Sears location because we want to make sure our store managers and other guests can see the site of our upcoming Store Support Center. We take every opportunity to bring more commerce to Mattoon," Francis said.
Rural King employees and other workers have been transforming the former Sears location to host the store managers' meeting. Much of this work can be seen by shoppers from the main concourse of the Cross County Mall.
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"We’re separating the space into several areas that will be devoted to presentations, product demonstrations, and training," Francis said. The training will include specialized Rural King leadership development sessions.
A stage has been placed in the former Sears hardware section and three movie screens have been hung from the ceiling there to facilitate keynote presentations. Smaller meeting areas have been set up in other areas. Displays of new merchandise, including spring gardening and lawn care products, are being set up throughout the former Sears sales floor.
Rural King reported in a press release that since opening its doors in Mattoon in 1960, the firm has grown from two associates in one location to a national company with more than 7,000 associates. Francis said managers from 109 Rural King stores in 13 states are scheduled to attend next week's meeting.
"After the store manager meeting, we will continue the work to make the mall the site of our new Store Support Center and continue trying to increase traffic and commerce throughout the mall and the entire city of Mattoon," Francis said.
Rural King reported that it plans to move the Store Support Center to the former Sears location later this year.